Israel Stories

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Divine Comedy

Every stone in Jerusalem is holy. “So what’s that?” asked one of the teenage group, sarcastically, as he pointed to a sign saying WC, “is that holy to, well it’s got a hole in it anyway”. The other teenagers fell about laughing; their leader had just managed to embarrass their poor tour guide, probably not for the first time today. “Well”, continued the tour guide with full and impressive composure, “why don’t you check it out”. “Oooohhhh,” squealed the teenagers, feigning mock insult and hurt feelings.

The guide was fighting a losing battle. I almost felt sorry for her, almost but not quite. Then one of the group shouted something deeply personal and embarrassing about the guide and all hell broke loose. The girls started shouting at the boys, who knew they had overstepped the mark but were clearly in denial and who shouted back at the girls who they figured were over sensitive. Then out of nowhere a man carrying a huge tray of bread tripped and fell sending his tray (and bread) straight into the face of the offending teenager. In the commotion that followed and as the boy sat crying holding his bloody face in his hands, I couldn’t help notice a smile of contentment on the tour guides face as the offending criminal received his punishment immediately and some would say divinely.

I have never managed to get to the bottom of whether we are punished instantly for our sins or if there is a long term payout. Is it a case of attributing everything that goes wrong to something bad you did a few minutes ago. I mean, for example, when you bump the car is that a punishment for something you said about your wifes driving a few weeks ago.

I’d also like to know if when you ignore a person hitching and they shout something after you, are they cursing you, do you have to worry or care, should you attribute another ‘small’ car accident to the fact you ignored your brother who hitched and low ye ignored him?

Well how about this. I had a running battle with cats in my last house and did some questionable things to them in order to rid myself of them. Now in my new house there are no cats but a dogs either side of me and across the road from me. When one starts barking they all start. I’m scarred to do anything about it in case I move to a new house and find myself face to face with a lion.

And here’s another. I once moved some rubbish from outside my house closer to the neighbors so that it would look like it was theirs. The next thing I find is the rubbish collectors turning up at 2am in the morning three weeks in a row making so much noise that it more than ruined my day, and I need my sleep, believe me.

Some people would laugh this off, tell me I am being paranoid and tell me that you shouldn’t waist your time worrying about but I do and only because recently these instant forms of retribution seem to be more frequent.

So walking through the Old City in Jerusalem and seeing this teenagers face get mashed under a tray full of bread really drove home to me that sometimes we are punished instantly. Laughing to myself that I am not the only one and that he really deserved I didn’t notice the hoarding of a nearby shop had come loose and before I could say, I’m sorry I’m not perfect, I walked straight into it, bruising my cheek and shoulder, much to the amusement of the teenagers, and their guide.

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