A long overdue post Part 1: Jerusalem, Israel
Site of the Crucifixion where guests kiss and pray
The Wailing Wall
Church of the Holy Sepulchre (that houses the Tomb of Christ)
While I did spend Christmas eve and, consequently, Christmas morning waking up in Bethlehem, we seemed to have fast-forwarded a little bit in the journey of Christ spending the afternoon and night of Jesus’ birthday hopping off to Jerusalem to experience His passion and death.
Without ever having done the Stations of the Cross here in Manila, I found myself walking the exact route that Jesus’ himself took in our experience of Via Dolorosa (which I googled to mean “the route believed to have been taken by Jesus through Jerusalem to Calvary”.) The walk was a bit long and that’s without a cross. We all thought we’d be carrying one as well – tourists apparently do but issues with some conmen kept us from doing so. The most notable stations of course were that of Veronica (where she wipes Jesus’ face), the Crucifixion and the burial in the tomb.
To a normal person, the “tour” would look like a series of churches being visited one after the other. To Catholics, each stop had its own little meaning where a silent prayer was offered. The site of the Crucifixion, like that of the birth in Nazareth, is one where visitors could kiss the holy spot. The stricter, more sacred place was the tomb where you wait in line for hours to be brought in 5 at a time with about a fraction of a minute to kiss the tomb and pray. Photos weren’t allowed inside either so my memory of it will have to do.
It was a magical experience even if at times I was distracted by the actual details of what I had to do versus taking in where I was and what I was actually doing (like I mentioned in my thorough summary) Interestingly, because this sacred place is also tourist attraction, it has also attracted vendors selling everything from holy mementos to not-so-holy garments where their merchandise is up for grabs in between each station. I personally haven’t decided how I feel about it, but I’m also not one to talk as I did purchase the ubiquitous fresh pomegranate juice (which every single area in Israel had) and some candied almonds.
After the Catholic route we went the Jewish route and visited the Wailing Wall. The story is that when their church was destroyed, the Jewish would pray to what was left of it (the wall) and wail their prayers there. Fast forward centuries later and people are still using that wall to pray. The wall is also famous for the petitions that people leave in its cracks. Apparently, the petitions you leave come true. I found out two things: 1) that getting your spot to actually put your petition feels like Manila traffic where you have to be ruthless and aggressive once a tiny opening presents itself and 2) getting there does not guarantee an easy petition placement. The trick is to fold your paper really small so it can stick right in any spot. My paper fell a couple of times (caught on video) but I will not take that as a sign that they won’t come true. I take it as a sign that about a trillion other people have just as many prayers as I do.
Other less holy instances in Jerusalem involved ogling over Jerusalem street art, my best friend singing Clarity and selfies taken all over the place. As proof, Via Dolorosa outfit post to follow.