The photo I really want to post is from my Fitbit; 16,626 steps and 84 flights of stairs today. To say that we’re tired, in a very good way, is an understatement. Lots of laughter at dinner tonight, interspersed with conversation about some serious topics. We’ve met some new people and learned about life in this part of the world that is making an impact on us. And, among the group, new friendships are forming, and others are deepening.
Early this morning, we went to Ein Karem “spring of the vineyard,” a hilly neighborhood on the edge of Jerusalem where Zechariah and Elizabeth are said to have lived. While the above sign is found on the Church of the Visitation, it seems appropriate for so many places that we have visited. One of my favorite stories from Luke’s gospel is the story of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Mary’s going to greet her to share her own news, and the birth of John the Baptist. Climbing from the church that commemorates John’s birth to the higher church honoring the Visitation, we enjoyed warm breezes and birdsong.
Near Ein Karem is the Holocaust Museum – Yad Vashem. Our group spent about 2 hours at the museum, experiencing the historical stories and faces of the Holocaust (much like the similar museums in Washington, DC, and New York City). Many of us went to the Children’s Memorial, which is part of the museum. We entered into a dark space full of tiny flickering lights, reflected in mirrors … so the glittering stars in a vast heaven … all while male and female voices named children who died in Shoah.
Tony our guide took us to a fabulous restaurant for lunch, then we walked from our hotel in the Old City to Mount Zion, where we began at a room that is commemorated as the site of the Last Supper. Then, we went to St. Peter in Gallicantu (cock’s crow), where archaeological evidence makes it the likely place of Jesus’ imprisonment after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. It would have been the site where Caiaphas the High Priest resided. Jesus would have been lowered into a dungeon, probably having been treated quite brutally by those who arrested him. We had Holy Communion in the chapel immediately above the dungeon … quite moving for Cynthia and me to celebrate in that space. Then, we returned to our hotel, tired, ready for a rest and dinner.