Today was a day filled with moments of reflection, emotion and holiness. We started the day by visiting the Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives, then we visited the Catholic Church of the Pater Noster built on the site of a fourth century basilica. In it you can find The Lord’s Prayer written in over 100 languages. We visited the Dominus Flevit Church (meaning “Jesus Wept” in Latin) which is built in the form of a tear to symbolize the tears of Jesus. After that we walked to the Jewish Cemetery (still on the Mount of Olives) and ended our morning by visiting the Church of All Nations which is a Church located next to the Garden of Gethsemane. The overwhelming feeling that comes over you when you see the trees in the Garden of Gethsemane is indescribable. The trees, that unfortunately are surrounded by a gate and open only to those who pay, are between 1,800 and 2,000 years old and may very well be trees Jesus sat under, or even touched. We took time to meditate around this garden and it is not difficult to get lost in the wondrousness of this garden, talking to the trees and connecting to lives past.
After this fabulous morning we went toward the Muslim Quarters, past the Kidron Valley, to the Church of St. Anne and Pool of Bethesda where we had time to meditate, have lunch and even sing inside the church. The echoes heard in this church are incomparable. We stood up as group and sang a hymn and we could tell that walls wanted to sing with us. They reverberated the song back to us like they wanted us to know that we were not alone. After we were done singing (and had shut our mouths) the echo continued for at least 6 to 7 seconds. It was amazing.
In the afternoon we walked along the Via Dolorosa and ended in the Garden Tomb where we meditated, celebrated communion and visited the tomb that is celebrated as Jesus’.
We enjoyed a lot of reflection time which allowed us space to absorb our surroundings, to breathe in Jerusalem and the holy sites, with all the beauty and contradictions it comes along with. I leave you with the words we read on a sign in the Garden Tomb: “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.” Peace be with you.
Anita Laura Fonseca (for all the group)
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