I hadn’t yet left the departure lounge in Manchester when I became very aware of culture’s colliding. I’ve never been on an airplane before that announces a prayer gathering at the rear of the plane … where I happened to be sitting. I tried to do what my mother said and not stare. However I could almost guarantee that my church would look equally as weird at the back of an airplane “laying on hands”!
I arrived in darkness into Jerusalem. Not profound, it is just dark here from 730pm and I got a Sherut. A minibus that doesn’t leave until it’s full (at least an hour in my case) but drops you right outside your destination. I’m not complaining about Translink again, well until they put prices up.
I probably don’t need to tell you but it’s hot here! So hot you don’t need to pee much, water finds its way out of places you didn’t even know had sweat glands. But a lot of places have filtered water taps to fill up, so no need to be buying lots of water! Silver lining no. 1
I spent my first day in Jerusalem exploring the Old City on a free walking tour led by an English guy who could out sell Del Boy! I would say that it is a good way to get familiar with the place but this place is such a maze of streets that even with a good sense of direction it’s hard to navigate. Maps are useless, signs when they exist don’t tend to appear on the map. Shop owners are great at pointing the way and will take the opportunity to get you to buy something in their shop – “why don’t you come inside so I can rip you off” was one invitation. Who knew that there would be plenty of banter to be had in a holy place.
I met a lovely woman from America who has been to Israel 4 times including a time volunteering in a kibbutz. Her grandfather was from Belfast, actually, and her name proved it. After the tour we decided to join the Franciscan fathers as they walked the stations of the cross from Pilate’s house to Church of Holy Sepulchre (Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb was found here, I think. I’ll get back to you on that one)
On the way to the starting point we met two Sisters of Charity (Mother Teresa’s order) and heard about their work in various parts of the world. In the short time we spent together I found them to be very peaceful, caring and patient. A wonderful addition to a day packed with great experiences (I’m going to have to do another blog on this day as there was so much good stuff going on)
As we walked the stations of the cross, Lorie and I laughed about how this solemn pilgrimage took place in the midst of shop owners trying to sell you stuff, deliveries being made and even the Muslim call to prayer. I wonder what God makes of it all?
It ended in the Church of Holy Sepulchre, a church unlike any I’ve ever been in. I couldn’t help thinking that it would all have been too much for poor Calvin.
The end of the procession takes place at the supposed tomb Jesus was placed in (photos to follow, when I go back and take one) and you get to go inside after all the monks, priests, nuns etc.
I don’t know anyone can say fir sure that Jesus was ever there, but he wasn’t there when I went in. So where is He? It’s the question I’ve been mulling for a week or so now.
” Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he is risen!”
I’m finding it harder to see Him at the moment, but I think that like Mary I’m looking in the wrong place.