Weekending with Jesus!

christian pilgrimI feel like I spent the weekend with Jesus. I returned to Jerusalem with one of my best friends who is visiting from Toronto and as she is only in town for 10 days…every day is action packed. We took the 19 shekeled bus bound to J-town without much agenda other than to meander through the streets soaking in the incredible biblical history.  As this is not the height of tourist season the narrow streets of the Old City were relatively free of people making it an exciting playground for us. We booked a room at the Austrian Hospice which was just a delightful respite from the hustle & bustle. It is located in the Muslim quarter and has an incredible garden overlooking the streets as well as a famous rooftop which unfortunately was not open due to snow damage.

Outside the Austrian Hospice.
Outside the Austrian Hospice.

Musings

1. Christian Pilgrims. They fascinate me with their bags of crosses and and other religious trinkets that they painstakingly take out at each of the sites in order to heighten their religious value. They wear scarves, cry and do not look as if you want to f-k with them.  They are here on a mission. #operationChrist

2.  Jesus sites. I am no longer a Christian however I wanted to honor my upbringing not to mention satisfy my religiosity and see first hand the Jesus sites. There is a site for everything Jesus did from birth to breast feeding to his ascension. Some of them require a bit of imagination like “Jesus’ footprint”.  I told the site leaders that he was a size 8. They laughed. #HolyHumor

2.  Jesus sites. I am no longer a Christian however I wanted to honor my upbringing not to mention my curiosity and see first hand the Jesus sites. There is a site for everything Jesus did from birth to breast feeding to his ascension. Some of them require a bit of imagination like “Jesus’ footprint”.  I told the site leaders that he was a size 8. They laughed. #HolyHumor

Jesus' footprint at the Chapel of Ascension on Mount of Olives.
Jesus’ footprint at the Chapel of Ascension on Mount of Olives.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not trying to make light of Christianity or the plight of Jesus I am just simply saying that every other step I took showcased his achievements…even the most most minor of them. This lead me think about the role Jesus plays in Christianity. Do Christians worship Jesus or God?  Yes and no. Some Christians believe that Jesus IS God and others believe that he is the son of God…so fascinating that this doesn’t create more conflict.

3. Bethleham aka House of Bread (true!) and yes I did sing “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”…in Bethlehem.

Out taxi driver told us the best way to tour Bethleham was via his cab and but of course he will give us a “very good price” (said in the key of Borat). According to our guidebooks this was indeed true (“great success”). Apparently the buses from Jerusalem can only drop off passengers at the West Bank military checkpoint where in theory you can then catch a cab to town. For 300 shekels we took up our cab driver’s offer to play tour guide. He took us to the Church of the Nativity, some place where Jesus was rumored to have been breastfed and my favorite site: Shepherds Field which was where Ruth met Boaz among other biblical happenings.

Shepherd's Field.
Shepherd’s Field.

Shepherd’s Field also had an awesome excavation site of a monastery from forever ago (like…really, really, really old) which was seemingly open for us to explore (we don’t ask questions that might keep us from having an adventure).

4. Conspiracy theories. As I was touring Jesus sites I thought about what if historians found Mary’s (the mother of Jesus) diary?

Dear Diary,

I had pre marital sex with Joseph (so much fun!) but I didn’t want everyone to know…so I lied and said this baby is from immaculate conception. So far so good. Hope nobody finds out. Oops.

Xoxox
Mary

Anyway… probably going to Gehenom for my conspiracy theory. Seriously A LOT rests on Mary’s account of events.

We asked our cabbie to take us to the Mount of Olives. More time with Jesus and this time atop a crazy hill which at this point in our day felt like the biggest physical challenge ever. The definite highlight was the “Tomb of Prophets” which sadly no longer contains actual prophets due to grave robbers. The site is donation only and your tour guide is a man whose family has owned the house on it for generations. He unlocks the gate to the underground tomb and leads you around by candle light.

IMG_5074
Inside the Tomb of the Prophets.

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