Visiting the Western Wall and other sites

A few of the intrepid souls at the Southern Wall

Dear Friends,

We began our day with a visit to the Dome of the Rock, which is an Islamic shine located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  It stands, it’s golden dome gleaming in the sun with thousands of beautiful blue hand-painted tiles, on what is believed to be the sacred rock where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and where Mohammed is said to have ascended into heaven. It is also believed to be directly over the site where the Holy of Holies and Herod’s temple once stood. It is sacred ground indeed, for the people of many faiths.

Then we visited the Western Wall (or the “Wailing Wall”), men on one side of a divide, women on the other, and said a prayer or placed our prayer request on a tiny piece of paper which is traditionally wedged between the stones of the great and sole remaining Wall of the ancient temple complex. Strangely, the atmosphere is prayerful near the Wall, but also chaotic, with joyful groups arriving who are chanting jubilantly, hundreds of people milling around, bar mitzvahs being celebrated, children crying, and a great sense of humanity coming and going.

We then walked to the Southern Wall where steps remain that once led to the temple and upon which we can surely say that Jesus climbed. The heat was blistering but many of the group made the trek to this site, wheelchairs bumping over the ancient stones so we could get to the place where we could confidently say, “Yes, Jesus was here!” And so were we. It’s a reality that was both exciting and pretty unbelievable.

After lunch we celebrated Mass at the Church of All Nations, a  church built in the area where scholars feel confident that the Garden of Gethsemane was situated and where Jesus prayed before he was taken into custody.  Group by group of pilgrims files in, to pray or celebrate Mass. It is an international spiritual gathering place!

We continue to meld as a group — beginning to get into a rhythm and intuit one another’s needs. And we’re laughing a lot! Always a good sign on a journey of this sort…

We are praying for our loved ones back home. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Hopefully we can get the laptop passed around and other pilgrims will be able to post their blog regarding their experiences. Please don’t hesitate to leave your comment! You are missed.

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