Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sunrise from Mt. of Olives

Got up this morning at 5:15 A.M., to begin our morning trek up to the Mount of Olives. Interesting name, "Mount of Olives": it is a mount on the eastern edge of Jerusalem, overlooking the old city. We went through the Damascus Gate, down the Via Dolorosa (the trail Jesus supposedly walked to his death, but didn't...I'll explain later), and up the mountain to the top of the Mount of Olives. We left at 5:30 and got to the top by 6:30, just in time to watch the sun capture the gold dome of the Dome of the Rock (Muslim), and before most of the tourist "pilgrim" buses made it up to the top of the Mount. From this vantage point you can see the entirety of the Old City of Jerusalem, along with the rest of the City--the modern part--and notice all the Jewish settlements in Palestinian lands. It is breathtaking to see that this City is still in political and religious ferment after thousands of years.

We could see from our eagle's eye view the Jewish cemetery, along with the Catholic cemetery, all in the Kidron Valley. You could see where the wall went out further south during the reign of King David, along with the Crusader parts and Roman parts (Hadrian of Hadrian's Wall in Scotland). And modern Jerusalem is growing quickly.

We walked home along the northern edge of the City, traipsing to St. Georges College and Cathedral for breakfast. We'll take off on the second part of the pilgrimage at 12 noon, going deep into the Old City to see what was of Jesus time, what was of the Crusaders time, the Ottoman era, up to the 1967 war for the Western Wall.

Shalom and Salaam...

Buen Camino, Brett