Sunday, November 16, 2014

Baptisms at the Jordan River

Baptism, Jordan River

Israel Pilgrimage—1987

The pilgrims line up
at the popular baptismal site
on the banks of the Jordan
donned in flowing white robes
rented from a vendor
on the way in

One by one our rabbi
listens to words of testimony
and dips each believer backwards
as their brothers and sisters
sing softly on the shore

After they emerge
washed clean in that murky old river
they shed their rented robes
and are funneled through
a narrow aisle
where souvenir bottles
of Jordan River water
where olive wood sheep
and olive wood shepherds
tee shirts and postcards
and holy this and blessed that
are offered—
for a price

Our driver hurries us along
beckons us to the bus
The motor’s running

Quick! Or you’ll miss the camel ride
through the wilderness tonight!

And despite renting and hawking
despite murky water
and tight tour agendas, we know
the sincere emersion
of each contrite sinner
has filled the heavens
with hallelujahs
this glorious day

Maude Carolan Pych

The pilgrims from my congregation, Beth Israel Worship Center, Wayne, NJ, continue their Holy Land pilgrimage with our pastor/rabbi, Jonathan Cahn.

The above poem is from a pilgrimage I took in 1987. It is included in my chapbook, A Pilgrim's Quest--A Poet Visits the Holy Land. For ordering information, scroll to the end of this website.

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