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  • In the Arab quarter I watch children head to school with heavy backpacks. I watch other kids, young kids, working in their family shops. Along the Via Dolorosa I watch a boy sprint by a line of Franciscans who have come to retrace the final journey of Jesus. All I have eyes for is this exuberance in these wild, wonderful shoes.

    I watch another boy, a boy who seems to be on his own--he's kicking a chip bag all the way up a long street as though it is a soccer ball and he a champion.

    As though he were free. As though he could go anywhere, do anything, be anybody at all.
  • Is it true what my eyes tell me?

    On the airplane, the Israeli kids stay so quiet, so still. For eleven hours or more.
    Here on the streets of Jerusalem their play seems restrained. Serious. Old.

    Or am I reading all this into their dress, their language, their movements.
    Making assumptions based on what I know of their history.
    On what's been going on around here lately.
    On where my sympathies lie.
  • As I walk this cool early morning through the old city with my dear friend and her young son, elderly Palestinian men seated in front of still-sleepy shops call out to him, shake his little hand, let him scavenge for sweets in their pockets. She says it is like this every morning on their way to school. And on the way home. This small blonde boy speaks French to his father, English to his mother and Arabic to everyone else. He is of this place--or so he thinks.

    My friend's two sons are big-hearted, sprawling boys, wild and wanton, sweet and funny. Their father says that East Jerusalem gathers them into its heart, embracing their energy, their noise, their presence. He says that when they visit family in the U.S., their untrammeled spiritedness is tolerated---up to a point. In France it is not. At all.
  • What do I know of the children of Jerusalem?
    Not a thing. Nothing.

    But as I write these words from thousands of miles away my heart swells. My heart swells.
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