Tuesday, March 27, 2018

From the peace of a garden to Iranian Drones

Our next stop is the upper Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus went only that far that night he was betrayed, as the Sabbath law required him to go no further. I wonder why he chose to break the law about working (healing) on the Sabbath, but not the one about walking on the Sabbath. Was it because the garden was simply closer and more private? Or work (healing) too important?

At this high spot, it’s more rocky, with the occasional piece of garbage. The trek up here is a single lane, either direction and very busy, not to mention a considerable hike for some in our group. We pass a single, small piece of graffiti, a short prayer for peace.

Jerusalem wants peace

You can see the Old City in the background

The upper part of the Garden of Gethsamene

We can see much of the eastern wall, the Golden Gate and the Dome of the Rock. Rhonda recalls a song about the Eastern Gate being closed up, but it’s not until later that someone else recalls it and says it's the Golden Gate. I don’t remember learning it. 

A panoramic view of the Old City

Our team leader talks about churches that have been built on important Biblical sites and how it’s both a blessing and a curse. But here in the garden, we can almost understand how exhausted the disciples were to have fallen asleep on the rocky ground so easily.

We climb down the hill, passing the cute sign that offers “In and out Coffee”, so similar to what a guide says as a delicate term for using the restrooms. 

copyright S.Soper

At another part of the garden, we visit the Church of All Nations, and discover that the olive tree there is not 2,000 years old as some claim, but only 1,200 years, as carbon dating has been done on it. This part of the garden is packed with people, and one can only walk the way the herd is going. So many people, with guides that are plying their trades, some yelling over the noise, some talking into the transmitters. 

The Jerusalem cross on the gate into the garden.

Inside the Church of All Nations

One very old olive tree.

Inside the garden.

View from the front of The Church of All Nations

We soon escape down to the main road, where buses line up. We’re off to the panoramic view, and on the way, our guide warns us that the best pickpockets in the world are there. 

Panoramic of the Old City

Up close.

The City of David
Our group, sans those enjoying a coffee out moment. Copyright Y. Paz.

There, the requisite photo is taken, but our tour is abruptly interrupted by our guide telling us that an Iranian drone was shot down after it entered Israeli airspace through Jordan. Also, 40 Syrian batteries were destroyed last night and one Israeli fighter jet shot down close to the Syrian border. 
The pilots ejected to safety, and our guide reiterates how volatile the situation is here. Some of the plane’s debris fell near where we’d spent our lunch after visiting the Fortress Nimrod.
But I must reiterate: we never feel unsafe. Our guide and our driver take good care of us and to me, Israel is a safer country than parts of the US or Canada. 

We climb aboard our bus and learn we're off to David's City.
The Upper Room is next!

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