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Beyond the Jordan

Beyond the Jordan Heather M. Surls Th e Prayer Tree One ought to remember the mosaics, the cornerstone of the church, the hazy view into Palestine. But I have seen too many mosaics and limestone walls. What I saw—what I remember—is the oak tree on the eastern edge of the archaeological site. It was a normal oak tree, with knobby bark, hardy leaves that look perpetually dusty, a sprinkling of acorns, pollen streamers hanging. Its lower branches, though, were tied up in trash. Somehow I knew what it was without knowing: a prayer tree. It didn’t look holy; it looked dirty. It looked like the Western Wall in Jerusalem, with a wide greasy stripe where worshippers rest their foreheads, its cracks stuff ed with prayer notes in all languages, written on scraps of journal paper, receipts, and gum wrappers. Twice a year they pry the prayers from the cracks—one million every year—and bury them in the cemetery on the Mount of Olives. I, too, have a prayer there, buried somewhere beneath the dirt on the mountain prophecy says the messiah will split in two when he returns. I step closer to look at the tree. I see blue and red ribbons—maybe the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative Ashland University

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Publisher
Ashland University
Copyright
Copyright © Ashland University
ISSN
1548-3339

Abstract

Heather M. Surls Th e Prayer Tree One ought to remember the mosaics, the cornerstone of the church, the hazy view into Palestine. But I have seen too many mosaics and limestone walls. What I saw—what I remember—is the oak tree on the eastern edge of the archaeological site. It was a normal oak tree, with knobby bark, hardy leaves that look perpetually dusty, a sprinkling of acorns, pollen streamers hanging. Its lower branches, though, were tied up in trash. Somehow I knew what it was without knowing: a prayer tree. It didn’t look holy; it looked dirty. It looked like the Western Wall in Jerusalem, with a wide greasy stripe where worshippers rest their foreheads, its cracks stuff ed with prayer notes in all languages, written on scraps of journal paper, receipts, and gum wrappers. Twice a year they pry the prayers from the cracks—one million every year—and bury them in the cemetery on the Mount of Olives. I, too, have a prayer there, buried somewhere beneath the dirt on the mountain prophecy says the messiah will split in two when he returns. I step closer to look at the tree. I see blue and red ribbons—maybe the

Journal

River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction NarrativeAshland University

Published: May 23, 2018

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