Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Going back!

Its now just over a week since we arrived in Jerusalem after a full on day that took in farewell to Galilee, the Jordan River, Masada, the Dead Sea and Jericho!

The next morning - Wednesday, a week today - we set out to 'do' Holy Week and I've already blogged about some of it but not all... 

As I told you, we started early, in fact we so early we were the very first group into Pater Noster church. I loved the way Khalil described as being like a French embassy - the land belongs to France so the flag flies there.

Khalil is full of pearls of wisdom and little sayings that capture the essence of something. This morning's gem was - Jerusalem is a mosaic of peoples. The more you experience the city the more it becomes patently true. From there we took our palm crosses and started our journey following Christ's last week in a day. From adulation to agony and beyond pain. It was hot and the path very steep - so not an easy route to take. We had Mass under the olive trees in Gethsemane... Another privilege.

The way of the cross or Via Dolorosa was not as crowded and bustling as it had been last time but still you could get an impression of what it must've been like carrying the cross. Through the heat and heckling, being jostled and jeered. To 'escape' that and find yourself on the top of Calvary (in the shape of the Orthodox Ethiopian church) is in many ways a relief. You know journey is nearly over...

We ended up (as usual) on the roof of the church of the Holy Sepulchre and in the Ethiopian part of the church. When our devotions were over, and the obligatory group photo had been taken, two of us stayed on to attend Vespers in the Ethiopian church. Its rather hard to explain the wonderful deep tonal chanting in a way that will do it justice but observing the ritual was a truly uplifting experience. They lean on their wonderful wooden 'crutches' that tuck neatly under their arms, occasionally stopping to have a little conflab about who will do the next bit... or so it seemed - though i could be wrong.  it was simple but beautiful.  Now great choir or musical accompaniment but just delightful worship.

The Ethiopian church is clearly not as affluent as its close neighbours. There is also someone on each of the three levels - the roof, the upstairs chapel and the ground level one. All three 'guards' - because that is how they appear - sit there silently or quietly reading the Scriptures all day every day. I know that their vows drive them but I suspect there is also a need to protect property... and to try and ensure that their building isn't used as a thoroughfare at the most inappropriate times. Its a shortcut to the church of the Holy Sepulchre that sadly gets rather abused as people rush to see the 'main show'!

I was happy to just 'be' there

No comments:

Post a Comment