We are nearly a month in at our current shift in the prayer room here in Jerusalem. We quickly fell into the routine upon arriving: shifts in the prayer room, meeting and hosting guests from around the world. Thursdays on the Temple Mount. Vegetable shopping forays in the Arab market outstide the Damascus gate, falafel sandwiches and fresh juice in the Old City, walking to Avi’s house for Shabbat dinners on Friday night with his precious family. We made the bus trip north to spend a weekend with our beloved Gerassy family last weekend. Shay was home from school, the boys Ram and Garl were home from the military, and mother Smadi put forth another memorable meal for over 20 persons on Friday night. We feel rich… rich with the relationships we have developed here.
We have learned so much in the past two years, of which nearly half of that time has been spent living in Jerusalem. We have among other things been seeking to know and understand our spiritual roots, our spiritual heritage that springs from a Jewish story and a Jewish Messiah who is the Christian savior.
We have also in this holiday season been reminded of our own personal heritage: our amazing parents, Art and Ernie Nicklaus and Fred and Jeanne Archer. I know I wouldn’t be on the pilgrimage I am on without the encouragement from the time I was a young boy of my mother and father. The set of Bible Story books that I devoured as a youngster; dragging me to the Episcopal church, seeing that I was baptized and confirmed as a young teen, giving me a little book upon my high school graduation called “All Men Seek God”. And setting an example for me as loving parents with an undying commitment to family, and unbreakable family relationships.
Julee’s mother and father have also had an influence on both of our lives that is incalculable. Their unconditional love and acceptance of me from the very first time I visited their home has never for a moment dimmed. I cannot walk through their door today without hearing encouraging and loving words from both of them. Julee is a princess because her Mom and Dad are royalty in my eyes.
So we honor the four of you, and the many deposits of love and faith you have made in our lives. Mother, in a fight for your life right now with a difficult illness, my love and admiration has no bounds. Dad, your dedication to Mom at this time and to the family for the past 60 years is inspiring and worthy of honor. Fred, you never had to tell me what it means to be a man of God; you just showed me by living it. And Jeanne, you are and always have been one of the most beautiful women I have ever known, from the inside out.
God bless our mothers and fathers…