As we entered Old Jerusalem my heart pounded and I felt as if it were skipping beats. To know that this road, the Via Dolorosa, was the very road up which Jesus carried his cross was overwhelming. Our guide told us to stop and look down. Some of the stones we were standing on were more than 2000 years old. They could have been the very stones where He placed His feet, where His blood dripped, where He stumbled and fell.
I don't know how it could be but it seems as if everything in Israel is uphill! Surely we will go down soon I kept thinking. But if we did I don't remember it. At each station of the cross we were able to stop and read the plaques marking the event. It became so very real. I felt Him labor to walk, to even breathe.
As we walked there were little alleys going off in both directions. I know that those who live here learn the way to get where they are going but for those of us who aren't regularly walking these streets it was a maze, frightening because the crowds made it difficult to always keep up with the group. Not frightening as in being afraid for my person, but frightening in that I might miss something if I had to go find a taxi to get me back to my hotel!
Sometimes the alleys were clean and empty, but that was mostly in the Jewish section. In the Muslim section the alleys were dark and dirty and cluttered more often than not.
This is The Wailing Wall. There were so many people here, all praying, many weeping, most putting prayer requests in the little niches. Nationality didn't matter. Color didn't matter. Wealth or lack of it didn't matter. Denomination didn't matter. We all were the same before God, all worshiping and all praying for the sorrows of our lives. One thing mattered though...gender.
Men went to one section and women to another. The section where the men went was more private than the one I went to. It reminded me of the Temple when it's described in the Old Testament...women were allowed only so far into the Temple.
The blue shirted guy....my husband. He was praying alongside soldiers, Jewish men, and men from all nations.
When we left the wall we went to another part of the city and actually climbed up and walked on part of the wall surrounding Old Jerusalem. If my eyes look swollen, they were. I can't remember crying so much. I wish I could explain how I felt on this journey, but it won't make sense. I felt like I was so close to Jesus, I felt a physical presence unlike anything I can articulate. I was at peace but also in turmoil. I was grateful for His death and I was guilty at His death. I wanted to have lived then so I could follow Him but afraid that if I'd been alive then I would have discounted Him like others did. I pray it would have been the following and not the discounting.
This is what I saw as I looked out over the wall.
One of the things I most wanted to do while I was in Israel was to stand on the steps of the Temple where Jesus taught. I'm not sure why that was so important to me but walking up these steps was like coming home.
This is the view from the Temple steps....lots of tour buses but also a gorgeous view of the surrounding city.
And lest you think I wasn't paying attention....look at these two shots of floors and wonderful quilt patterns. :)
Wouldn't this be a beautiful block when stitched up? In my mind Jesus is the center and the points of the star are you and me, the whole world drawing close to Him. Oh that it were so.