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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Holy Land Day 9 Part 2

One woman in our group has lost her iphone, and has gone with Rafe to the police. Although she didn't get it back, we have to credit the police for taking the matter seriously. They had security footage checked (to no avail) and then returned to the Garden of Gethsemane. We can see them checking young men's pockets and patting them down, but we knew it was gone. The hawkers swarm you and press into you, making it easy to pick your pocket. A group of us prayed for her. How very stressful. I know I would have been a basket case.
We walked to Dominus Flavit, stopping at a Jewish cemetery along the way. We can see Jerusalem clearly, and we have a professional group shot done, like what we had in Petra. At Dominus Flavit, the Church of the Lord's Tears, we learn that it was at this point Jesus cried for the city. 

Indeed, the altar doesn't face east, but rather west, toward the famous view of Jerusalem. Soon, he would enter the Golden Gate ahead of us, and we learn that Jews believe the Messiah will go through that gate when He comes. It was because of that reason that the Muslims walled up the gate to stop Him. 

And then they built a cemetery in front of it, believing that a Jewish Messiah would not defile himself by going through a cemetery. One person in our group pointed out that if the Muslims don't believe in the Messiah, why try to stop Him? Someone else pointed out that Jesus has already conquered the grave, so a cemetery won't stop him, either. The constant push and pull here becomes evident.
We then walked the way Jesus walked as he came down from the Mount of Olives, until we met our bus. It's off to Caiaphas's house. It's outside the old city nowadays, as the walls have changed. It's close to the City of David. 
It's a surprisingly peaceful place, considering how Caiaphas had wanted to kill Jesus. Archeological evidence has found proof that this is where Jesus spent his last night in the pit beneath the house. We listen to a Scripture reading as we stand shoulder to shoulder in the pit. Afterward, we see the door to the church here, The Church of St Peter in Gallicantu. 

Rafe explains that Gallicantu means 'Cock-crow' in Latin and the impressive bas-relief doors show Jesus warning Peter of his betrayal. 
Beside the church, excavations have unearthed the original steps that lead to the inner city. 

Steps Jesus would have taken after being hauled out of the pit.
Suddenly, there is a lunchtime call to prayer from the minarets. Rafe says they have been getting louder lately and I can see how clearly everyone around here walks on eggshells. Peace is a delicate balance here, like standing on a seesaw. 
We stop at the Zion Gate after this, finding it riddled with bullet holes in the war  in 1948, when the city was destroyed. Rafe buys us Jerusalem bagels to try. They are long, like a race track, and you rip them apart and sprinkle an herb mix called Zatar. It's salty, but delicious.

Rafe says only two kinds of people like destruction here -- builders, and archeologists. The builders are in demand, and the archeologists are allowed to excavate only when a building has been demolished. And they found the original wall from the 8th century BC. It's an important find.
We have lunch in the Jewish Quarter, a new, clean, lively place, filled with Orthodox Jews and women pushing carriages. It's like a small town. I marvel at how exciting it would be to live in this old city.
I look down at my camera. There's only space for 100 photos, and my battery has died. 
And still so much to see.

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