Friday morning we had a lecture on pilgrims and what it means taking pilgrimages. We have a woman in her thirties doing a thesis on pilgrimages, so I think we're part of her research. She gave us the run down of 2,000 years of pilgrimages.
Then, we hoped on our tour bus (and how this giant vehicles get through the city amazes me...) and we went to a HUGE model of the city of Jerusalem (2nd temple period). What would have set it over the top would have been a train running around it, but alas hahahaha.
Then, on the same grounds, in a building shaped like the top of a jar that held the Dead Sea Scrolls (the Israeli Museum) are some of the real Dead Sea Scrolls. So, the whole time that we were in there, I thought we were in a sacred place with all these great old documents and then on the way out Alan broke the news that most of them were just replicas....bummer. Oh well, it was still neat to see what they look like, real or not.
We then had lunch back at the college and we had free time the rest of the afternoon.
So, we headed into the old city. We climbed a church tower (The Lutheran Church) and took pics overlooking the city. After that, we went to an Armenian Church for Vespers. That was incredible! The church was absolutely beautiful with tons of candles, icons, and lights hanging from the ceiling. All in Armenian of course, but wonderful to be a part of that sacred space.
We then left there and climbed up the Austrian Hospice for another birds eye of the city. We then walked past the Ecce Homo Arch. And into the prison of Jesus. That was closed down, but surely it is a must see hahaha. Supposedly this is where Jesus was imprisoned before the events of Good Friday.
We then walked out of Lions Gate (the gate where Stephen was stoned) and into Herod's gate. Outside of Lions Gate was a Muslim cemetery. Very interesting as they bury their dead on top of the ground and seem to just paint the words on the tombstone in black paint. In Herod's gate we walked through the back streets and saw lots of little kiddos playing. After that, we waited outside of Damascus Gate and waited for the group to meet us.
When the group met us at 545, we headed to the Wailing Wall.
We didn't think we were going to go up to the wall, since as the sun was down, it was the beginning of the Jewish Holy Day. However, we did approach this space.
The men and women had to go to different sides. The men had to cover their heads. It can be anything (Alan wore a baseball hat) but their heads must be covered. The women could never turn their backs to the wall (Alan said the men could). So, when we were done, you have to walk out backwards turning only your head until you are at a respectful distance from the wall (basically out of the portioned section.
There were an amazing amount of people- singing in circles, standing, praying with families. The men's side was definitely more rambunctious than the women's side.
I can't explain what happened at that wall, it is so hard to even put it to words. I don't know why the wall is that powerful- maybe because of the history of the Jewish people- the struggles, the pain and sorrow, and the hurt, but the immense amount of hope and trust in the future. As soon as I touched the wall I simply started weeping. Their is just this energy, this presence of God that I was not expecting...
What a wondrous day...I'm so glad to get to the wall because until then, I didn't feel like I was in Jerusalem or really have these spiritual, pilgramatic moments.