Sunday, 14 December 2008

jerusalem (11) - the way of the cross

Station 13: The Deposition. Mosaic behind the stone of unction in the Church of the Resurrection.

Saturday 13th December. Another 5:30am wake up and then down to the old city to walk The Way of the Cross (stations of the cross). No photos as I wanted to focus on the walk and fully engage with the worship. The Brothers, Robert and David, had developed a liturgy for us to use and we began at the First Station on the Via Delorosa. Even though it was early in the morning, traders were already beginning to move about and we had to watch out for vehicles speeding through the narrow streets. As we neared the Church of the Resurrection the streets became busier; watching school children dashing along with their back packs I found myself praying for my two children back home. For the final four stations we stayed on the roof of the church next to the Ethiopean monastery as it would have been impossible to do this inside given the services, tourists and pilgrims at the various stations. However, we had time afterwards to go inside for our own prayerful reflection. I found myself sitting in the Latin Calvary, relatively quiet to my surprise as the mass had ended, and taking in the mosaic representations on the ceiling that I hadn’t really noticed before.

Latin Calvary mosaics

Breakfast at Papa Andrea's was the now familiar fare, a mixture of salads, cheeses, olives, bread and preserves and the ubiquitous eggs (still not a patch on the ones my girls lay at home). I’d been here earlier in my stay as they have a roof terrace with great views of the city and their coffee is good. They also have a large inflatable Father Christmas and I was tempted to release it just so I could get a photo of Father Christmas floating over the Dome of the Rock!

Papa Andrea's
The rest of the day was free to wander and shop; I picked up a few bargains after much haggling. I also managed to buy some stoles with the Jerusalem Cross design for a colleague and myself. (No more requests please my bag is full and seriously over weight).

The only other item on the schedule was an early evening talk from a representative of the Palestinian community giving the third of our perspectives on life in the Holy Land. The three talks we have heard have all been very informative and I have been impressed by the real desire for peace and to find the way forward. Clearly much depends on what Obama will do and also what happens in the forthcoming Israeli elections. I still don’t feel ready to post my own reflections on what I have seen and heard about the situation but meeting people and hearing their stories has been invaluable.

I’ve just finished reading Richard North Patterson’s novel Exile, another of his legal dramas this time set against the backdrop of Israel and the West Bank. I thought Patterson explored the complexities of the situation with sensitivity, balance and understanding. It was interesting to read his descriptions of places I have had the privilege of visiting as well as of areas where there was no chance of me going. I was not surprised when checking out the author’s note and acknowledgement to see an extensive reading list but more importantly a wide range of interviews and conversations with people directly involved in the situation. I could have done without his slightly Mills and Boone ending but still thought it a good timely read.

I’m looking forward to a lie in tomorrow and a more relaxed day, although having said that I’m off to visit the Shrine of the Book, The Model of Jerusalem and Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial tomorrow afternoon. I may try and visit the City of David excavations and Hezekiah’s Tunnel in the morning.

Anyone seen Brian?

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