From our lodging at St. Peter of the Cock Crowing we have a beautiful panoramic view of part of the city. Many houses are illuminated with the glowing lights for the month of Ramadan. The sky has been crisp clear allowing the sun’s full shine.
In addition to the beauty of the landscape, we’ve also been encountering the beauty of one another, the various sites, the ups and downs, and many local faces.
Here is a bit of a recap from this last week:
On Monday we went by bus to Hebron where we experienced the Palestinian market and recalled the beginnings of the history of Salvation, visiting tombs of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs- Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, Leah, as well as their son Joseph.
The Holocaust Museum awaited us on Tuesday morning. Here, it is more appropriate to use the word Shoah, which means disaster, as holocaust means burnt offering. Letting our hearts dive into this horrendous past was painful, but a necessary step in growth and healing between the Christians and the Jews.
Later that day, we hastened down a mountain trail to the town of En Karem, praying the Joyful Mysteries in the footsteps of Mary on her way to meet Elizabeth. This was our first encounter with Christ, too, as Mary was with child during this beautiful visit. After mass here, we also visited the church of John the Baptist to pray where John was born, and then ended our day with some Israeli dances with Jerusalem locals!
Wednesday was our own Christmas Day as we ventured to Bethlehem to the Church of the Nativity - to the very place of Jesus’s birth down in the crypt of the church. Family members, thank you for the Christmas letters! It gave us a taste of home and your love. Earlier that day, we saw the relics of St. Mariam of Bethlehem and even tried on her cloak! If you are unfamiliar with her, we highly recommend learning more about her! Among her many miracles, she was given a vision, which led to the rediscovery of the holy site of Emmaus, where the Community of the Beatitudes (where we stayed our first week here).
The rest of the week commemorated the Pascal mystery of Easter Triduum, mixed with some Jewish customs - Thursday at the Garden of Gethsemane, Friday’s all-day Way of the Cross through Jerusalem ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Saturday celebrating the Jewish Sabbath at the synagogue and with Jewish host families and spending the evening locked in the Holy Sepulchre, and Sunday a tour of the Ultra Orthodox Jewish neighborhood.
Today was a beautiful recreational day as we hiked and swam in the waterfalls and springs of En Gedi and floated in the Dead Sea! Now back at our living quarters, we’re cleaning and packing - tomorrow we transition to our next part of the pilgrimage in Galilee! As we’ll be camping and won’t have much internet connection, we won’t be able to blog for awhile. We’ll update again as soon as we can.
Please know that we are all healthy, safe, and well! You are all in our thoughts and prayers from afar.