This is the blog for day 5 and 6 but I want to put a cap on day 4 first. Later that evening, a few of us walked around Manger Square and got to go visit the factory shop of one of the main olive woodworkers in Bethlehem, Jack Issa. This was quite a good visit.
Day 5 began with an early morning rise and checking out of the hotel in Bethlehem. We traveled to the town of Hebron, site of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, with Abraham, Sarah, Issac and Rebekah. We visited this ancient mosque/synagogue and did a bit to help the local economy by visiting several of the vendors who truly are hurting in this town. Not as many tourists choose to go to Hebron, but if at all possible I never want to miss it.
We then made our way from Hebron to Jerusalem, visiting first Princess Basma Hospital and School for the Disabled. Ibrihim Falta and his staff skillfully led our tour.
Princess Basma is one of the many ministries supported by the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem of which I am the Chair of the Board. I urge you to go look at all the ministries at the AFEDJ website. https://afedj.org/
The tour was fantastic and very inspiring. We then made our way to lunch at Notre Dame Center, then to Bethphage, to pray,
and then to Pater Noster, the site of the Lord’s Prayer. Then on foot, down the Mt.of Olives, stopping at Dominus Flevit and then the Church of All Nations and finally the Garden of Gethsemane.
Then back to our hotel, and the 15 or so either interested or committed to getting a tattoo souvenir walked with me to Razzouk Tattoo shop in the old city. This family has been providing tattoos to pilgrims for over 800 years. I have a tattoo from several years ago on which I add a year for each year I go, so I got my “20” on my arm. There were many other takers.
Day 6 began on Mt. Zion, to begin our walk there, going to the Room of the Last Supper, the Tomb of David, the Dormition Abbey and then Eucharist at St. Peter in Gallicantu, the site of and commemoration of Peter’s denial of Jesus.
We then traveled back to the desert, for some sun and a little warmth! We stopped first at Qumran, site of the find of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and then on to the Dead Sea for the once in a life time experience of floating in the Dead Sea. A good time was had by all! We then made our way up the hill and back in to Jerusalem. This evening we had presentations by the Parent’s Circle which is always so powerful. These are Palestinian and Jewish Parents who have lost children to the struggle here and now work together for peace and the end of violence. We have always had them come and present their very moving and compelling stories. That meeting was before dinner, and then after dinner we were blessed to have Rabbi Poupko back with us to answer questions from the morning lecture and to share more with us about his perspectives on faith and the people of and land of Israel.
I have to say it has been very interesting being here while our president releases his “new deal” for this country and region. Life does go on, but there is so much anxiety about the plan and some wonderment on our part of why our country, so far away, plays such a major part. It is simply more of what has become more and more clear in all my travels here over the last decade, and a common feeling and description, “it’s complicated.”
In each of us dwells a wanderer, a gypsy, a pilgrim. The purpose here is to call forth that spirit. What matters most on your journey is how deeply you see, how attentively you hear, how richly the encounters are felt in your heart and soul.
Rousseau, the Art of Pilgrimage
Our pilgrimage continues….