I accidentally went into a men-only pool: Israel, Day 7

Turns out the hotel pool has separate hours for men and women.

I did not know this when I went in.

Finding this out when I tried to go again the next day explained a lot about my first visit. Embarrassing myself apparently comes naturally, no matter what country I’m in.

We spent all of yesterday exploring Jerusalem and visiting the holy sites of the city.

We started at the Mount of Olives, before making our way into the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Pools of Bethesda

My favorite part of the day was when we stopped at the Church of St. Ann. There is a tradition of singing inside the church, and the acoustics were gorgeous.

After getting lunch in the city, we had the opportunity to do some shopping downtown Jerusalem. My partner and I instead headed to the tattoo shop to interview for our stories.

Being in the field with a camera again felt really good. After working with mostly print over the last semester, it was nice to stretch the audiovisual muscles.

I had to raise my microphone to get some ambient sound

A few of our friends also got tattoos, although I won’t rat out which ones.

Days like yesterday are so busy it’s difficult to process everything we saw, much less pull meaning from it yet.

One thing that did strike me was when we were in the garden. It was full of olive trees, and our guide told us that olive trees have a unique quality where new trees can grow from old root systems. Even though trees themselves might be only a few hundred years old, their root systems might be much older.

This is representative of the church. Even though Christians are only here for a lifetime, their roots go much deeper. The church is our root system; we are merely the branches.

We are nearing the close of our trip, but I will be blogging the rest of it as well. Be sure to check back for a post about today, or follow me on twitter at @jordynpair.

Your family is a Christmas tree 


Wikimedia Commons

A newsroom argument over whether colored lights or white lights look better on the Christmas tree:

“Colored lights make a tree look messy,” I said.

“Christmas trees are like families. They’re supposed to be messy.”

It effectively ended the debate, and those words have been jingling around my head since.

Family drama can place a strain on this mistletoed holiday. When people bounce from house to house, relative to relative, old arguments are dredged up, new ones spring to life.

As we near the cusp of Christmas, remember this is a season of great love, of the greatest love. No earthly thing can overwhelm that.

I encourage you to remember the reason we gather these next two days (or, for those with larger families, for the next week, repeatedly). This is a time based in love. It is a time to put aside squabbles and arguments and drama. The homemade ornaments on the tree are far more important than what is under them.

A Christmas tree is like a family. It may be big or small, messy or neat, picturesque or haphazard. No matter the kind, it is twinkling and loved all the same.

Merry Christmas. Peace on earth.



After Orlando: An open letter to the Christian community

I am not even sure where to begin. Tragedy has struck Orlando, and America as a whole. My heart breaks for these victims and for their families.

49 dead. 53 injured.

Image originally from Jetblue.com

It both matters and does not matter that the victims of this tragedy were members of the LGBT community.

It matters because of their attacker. Omar Mateen reportedly pledged alliance to an Islamic terrorist organization. Islam has long been known to condemn homosexuality and identities related to it. Pretending these victims were not in a gay club when they were shot would be an insult to them. Pretending that is not why they were attacked is ignorant.

Do not sweep this fact under the rug. It is important to remember who they identified as, because it was the reason they were targeted.

At the same time, these identities, whether they were gay, bi, or trans, also do not matter at all. Even to Christians, it should not matter that these victims were members of the LGBT community. This could have happened at any club, at any school, at any supermarket, at any church.

Victims are victims are victims are victims.

Mourn them. Do not qualify your grief. Do not add an addendum. Forego the “even though.”

This is not the time to get on a pulpit. This is the time to stand beside people who are hurting. Show Christ through love and support.

Christ suspended judgement and showed love.

In this time of grief, do the same.