We went back to the bus for a short ride, bypassing part of the walk to a slightly shorter version. This was due in part to the fact that on Palm Sunday the narrow street is completely cleared -- today it is congested.
I realized a few minutes later that my fall was a metaphor for what happens to us: even when we are deep in prayer, when we live a life a prayer and feel close to God, we are not insulated from hurt and pain. When it happens to us, we need to understand that we are surrounded by love -- I felt that when I fell, not only from my fellow pilgrims, but from God. We are never insulated from hurt or pain, but we are given the strength and courage to deal with it and through it. This was an interesting time for this to happen to me, and it set me up for what was about to come.
And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36He said, ‘Abba,* Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’
-- built on the ruins of what was thought to be the home of Caiphas. I thought about Jesus walking there across the Kidron Valley -- it is not far. As I walked toward the building I took this picture -- I felt the same sense of dread I did the first time I saw it. I knew the story from the Gospels, but I didn't think it would hit me as hard as it did -- then or now.
But it did hit me hard. Very hard.
We went down into that hole. On the way we saw where people would have been flogged. Did they hurt Jesus there? Who have they hurt there?
As we descended the steps down into that pit, I couldn't bring myself at first to take a picture. I've taken a picture of so many other places, but I could not take one immediately in that space. From the top looking down to a small piece of it, I could. But not in there. NOT IN THERE. Why? It felt overwhelming. It was filled with pain.
We walked up out of the pit in silence -- there are no words to say coming out of the pit. Many of us were quietly crying.
This was a very heavy day emotionally and spiritually. While the morning passed quickly, we jumped from celebrating joyously the birth of our Savior yesterday to walking through part of his Passion and coming Death today.
I knew this was going to be a rough day -- I think I instinctively felt it and knew it was coming last Sunday in Zababdeh when I celebrated the Eucharist and cried at the words of the First Eucharistic Prayer in the Liturgy Booklet for the Lord's Supper from the Cathdral of St. George in Jerusalem:
All glory and honor, thanks and praise be given to you Holy Father, heavenly King, Almighty and Eternal God, at all times and in all places, through Jesus Christ your only son our Lord. For he is your living Word; through him you have created all things from the beginning, and formed us in your own image. Through him you have freed us from the slavery of sin, giving him to be born in Bethlehem to share our common life, and here in Jerusalem to die upon the cross; you raised him from the dead and exalted him to your right hand on high. Through him you have sent upon us your holy and life-giving Spirit, and made us a a people to serve you for ever.
I couldn't help but cry through that prayer, and through this day. It has nothing to do with the physical pain I'm in from the fall, but the emotional and spiritual pain I feel in this place, walking the path towards the death of the person whose birth we celebrated joyfully yesterday. That's why that prayer made me cry last week -- I AM in that place. I AM walking with him, and it hurts. We all are hurting today.
We did go to lunch, and it was greatly subdued from the mood we have been having while eating together. There was no laughing or singing. You can't pray and walk through what we walked through today and not be moved. It was a quiet lunch, almost silent.
We rested for a while and I continued to pray. I went to finish this blog, hit the wrong button and lost the whole thing. I had to recreate today's blog, and in a way that was a great gift. The writing poured out of me again, this time in one piece, instead of piecing it together after each stop. It helped me process a bit more of what I/we experienced today. It is humbling and a great privilege to be on pilgrimage with this wonderful group of young pilgrims.
The group gathered in relative quiet, and we remain that way.
Until tomorrow -- our time in the desert.
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