So near, yet so far

Pyramid from Hotel Egypt

The view from the hotel window, I could see the pyramids. It’s so close. I can’t wait to walk the desert sand for this great adventure to touch the stones of the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. But first we have to rest until the following day. Talking about excitement! It’s just there, why can’t we go now. No can do, patience is a virtue.

EgyptHa! Just there? Not quite. It was actually way too far and a camel is required to traverse this land. Since it was an imposing structure, it appears close but it was far.

To The Seeker Within You

This poem could easily be my story. Thank you, Noel.

Qumran view of Dead Sea

Qumran view of Dead Sea

To the Seeker Within You – 3/29/14

© Noel Abbott 2014. All rights reserved.

Dear Soul-Seeker,
You have traveled
this path
with no beginning
and no end
To think you have arrived
is to miss the moment
To believe
your life has no meaning
is to miss who you are
Your thoughts
your words
your actions
through the web
of the world
making it a different place
for all eternity
Knowing that
just live your life
as a prayer.

This causes me to tremble

Was I there?

At the crack of dawn, when everybody is still asleep, before the narrow streets of Old Jerusalem turn into a market place and become crowded with people, we were there to do the Via Dolorosa and reflect what it was to be there.

Via Dolorosa is a Way of Sorrow.  It is long winding narrow streets of Old Jerusalem starting from Ecce Homo Convent to the Basilica of Holy Sepulchre.  We carried the cross as the way Jesus carried it from being judge by Pilate and the people at the Judgement Hall all the way to Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion.
carry cross

There are fourteen stations that we stopped along the way:

I. Jesus is condemned to death

II. Jesus takes up the Cross

III. Jesus falls under the Cross for the first time

IV. Jesus meets his Mother

V. Simon the Cyrenian is forced to carry the Cross

VI. Veronica wipes the sweat from Jesus’ face

VII. Jesus falls for the second time

VIII. Jesus consoles the women of Jerusalem

IX. Jesus falls for the third time

X. Jesus is stripped of his garments

XI. Jesus is nailed to the Cross

XII. Jesus dies on the Cross

XIII. Jesus is taken down from the Cross

XIV. Jesus is laid to the tomb.

I was there twice and helped carried the Cross.  The weight of the Cross is heavy that it takes four people to carry but the weight of the real Cross in this world is much heavier to carry as I depicted in this post here.

This causes me to tremble.

A Mystical Garden

Olive trees are in abundance in Holy Land but what I wanted to see, touch, hug and take a leafy twig is the olive tree where Jesus prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane.  I am pretty sure everyone that visits this garden has the same idea as me.  If we ever touch, hug and take a twig from the olive tree, we would have loved the tree to death.

An iron gate enclosed the trees to keep them safe and unreachable from the public.  It is a very soulful place to imagine what happened during Jesus’ time.  I don’t believe that these are the same trees but according to scientific evidence, these trees are about a 1,000 years old. Jesus’ time was about 2,000 year ago.
P187a Olive Tree
When we visited the garden, pruning of the trees was happening to encourage new growth.  There were plenty of cuttings on the ground.  I approached the gardeners if I could have a twig.  One lady waved her finger indicating no.  It was rather absurd that I can’t have a twig when the cuttings may be thrown away.

I stood by the fence for the longest time watching them prune and longing for an olive branch.  Then one of the gardeners came towards me and gave me a leafy twig.  Bless her heart.

I walked away filled with gratitude and to catch up with the group that are already in the Church of All Nations.

The Church is reserved for an hour for us to spend time by the rock where Jesus wept and perspired blood.  It is a holy hour of quiet meditation, prayer and thanksgiving. In thanksgiving for having the olive leaves, I placed it on the rock.  These leaves will be a symbol that I have something original and not bought from the market place.  A holy souvenir that I’m proud to take home with me.

One hour went by so fast when I was in deep meditation.  The effect of being silent is rejuvenating as if I my inner garden has been worked on.

What happened next is unthinkable when I picked up the leafy twig, plucked one leaf at a time, gave them to my co-pilgrims and said peace be with you.

What made me do this?  I took the courage and the trouble to get the olive twig only to give them away.  I did not see this coming.

I was left with a leafless twig.  I kept the twig for the longest time and carried it with me in my purse only to give that away as well.

The strangest part is I was happy to give them away.

A Pilgrim’s wish

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (Song: Oh Little Town of Bethlehem)It is difficult to express the absolute bliss that I felt during this unique spiritual adventure.  As I literally followed the footsteps of Jesus, the journey with Him and other pilgrims made the Bible come to life especially where Jesus Christ was born.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The journey does not make me a better person instead it opened my eyes to the rich tapestry of other religious history such as Judaism and Islamic religion. As humans, we are passionate for peace and reconciliation.  However, when I saw the walls that surrounded Bethlehem, it was heart breaking.
The Holy Land experience unites all pilgrims as one whether we are Jewish, Muslim or Christians.  We all came as a believer.
My only wish is that may this place be open to all nations without dividing walls and the heritage of this magnificent land remains preserved.