Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bob's Guitars And Sami's Stoles

We St. John's pilgrims are shown the other morning on the roof of east Jerusalem's Holy Land Hotel, with the Dome of the Rock behind us and Herod's Gate on the right. First row: Damian, Brenna, Remy, Canon Iyad, and Steven; second row: Alexandra, Cindy K., and Allana; back row: Bob, Kathe, Christian, Shannon, Debbie, Fr. Mike, Fr. John, Kathy, Cindy D., Pastor Lisa, Ed, Cathy, and Jerry.

My t-shirt signified not me but a guitar brand. Later that day, at the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu on the eastern slope of Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, it enabled me to bond with an American pilgrim who said he was a colleague and friend of Taylor Guitars founder and CEO Bob Taylor. "I have guitar #200," he said. In the church dedicated to remembering Peter's denial of his savior, I wrestled with the sin of envy.

From Taylors to luthiers to tailors: One day last week, I took my friend and colleague the Very Rev. Canon Michael Bamberger to meet Sami Barsom, who's had the same shop on St. Mark's St. in the old city for over a half-century. In his customary fashion, he brewed and served coffee and spoke to us graciously while receiving the greetings of every third person who wandered by his shop -- Christians, Arabs, Jews. As lay leader of the local Syriac Orthodox community, his contacts are prodigious. He got out a picture Lord Snowdon took many years ago showing him with Jerusalem's legendary mayor, Teddy Kollek. And yes, Mike and I each bought one of his beautiful handmade stoles.

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