As if we had to celebrate Ramadan, Rosh Hashanah, and an ordinary day in the Christian year, we three pilgrims started off with a tour of churches on the Via Dolorosa (the way of the Cross), and ended up in evening prayers in a synagogue, and stepped inside a mosque:
* First church was he Church of St. Anne (and Joachim, her husband), parents of St. Mary. This is a beautiful Crusader church based upon or near Byzantine relics, which are near the pools of Bethesda, which were outside the walls of Jerusalem during Jesus' day, but today are within the walls.
* We then went next door to the Greek Orthodox chapel for the tomb of St. Anne and St. Joachim. Beautiful and very Orthodox, with icons all over the place...literally.
* We then made it to the Greek Orthodox shrine where St. Mary died, filled with chandeliers and icons, with the site of her death;
* We then met the 12-2:30 lunch time, in which all the shrines and churches close, so we scavenged and found a place to eat: 7 Arches, a Palestinian restaurant near Mt. of Olives.
All the Jewish establishments are closed because of the holiday...all!
* We then made it to Pater Noster chapel, where Jesus is to have uttered the Lord's Prayer, and then the shrine of Ascension, where Jesus ascended, with a slab of rock marking his foot print where he last touched terra firma.
* I then stepped into a mosque, breathed in the serenity of the garden, and said a prayer for peace;
* We made it down to the "And Jesus Wept" chapel, as he looked over Jerusalem and cried as he said he would like to be a mother hen, bringing the children of Israel back into the fold. The chapel is designed by Barluzzi...exquisite, overlooking the old city;
* We traversed across the street to the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Chapel that is dedicated to all nations next to it;
* We then walked several miles to a Reformed synagogue for evening prayers, entering the Jewish "burbs" of Jerusalem (modern), which were lovely, though all the shops were closed. We caught one synagogue taking a fish to the river (dead fish), and casting the dead fish into the river with everyone's sins...happy new year!
* We then went to evening prayers in a Reformed synagogue. I still know enough Hebrew to follow some of the lines of the prayers/Psalms;
* The walk back was exhilarating, and dinner at our favorite Palestinian restaurant capped off a great day of walking and seeing and sensing the holy in an incredible land.
Shalom and Salaam,