Monday, January 30, 2012

Really Holy?

          Church of the Holy Sepulchure                        
Yesterday we had a field study in the Old City. We took our books and maps directly to our location of study. All of my classes have field studies, this was the first! I do not know how I imagined the city to appear, but it was certainly not what I saw. I know it is utterly unrealistic, but I hoped to see the old Jerusalem, the exact Jerusalem Jesus walked, the Jerusalem I read about. I did not expect to see the vast amount of vendors in every direction, or the four distinct, drastically different quarters. The unspoken, yet, extremely evident tension of the divergent ways of life. The way these groups interact is difficult to put to words.
For example, how Muslims own the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the supposed place of Jesus’ burial. Or, how the location of the Dome of the Rock is held sacred by Muslims as the location of Muhammad’s ascension, and also the location of the original temple. Also, the location of Mt. Zion is moved! That amazed me; I cannot believe they titled a different mountain with this significant name!                                                  Jesus' tomb
The way men looked at me, and other women, produced an anger underwritten by a deep hurt and yearning for comfort. I intended the gender roles to be different, however, I did not realize the radical extent of this. Everywhere I went men starred, head up, eyes peeled. I soon realized this anger I felt was really a hunger for virtue. I want to be beautiful of course, but they are taking this beauty and corrupting it.                                                                                
My spiritual experience likewise strayed from my intents. I figured once I arrived in Jerusalem I would obviously have Eureka moment. I imagined once I stepped foot on the Holy Land I would instantly have a stronger, unbreakable faith. I was certain seeing the place of Jesus’ burial would immediately change me. And surely, if these places did little for me, walking on the Via Del Rosa, where Jesus carried the cross, would humble me and convict me to no end. In reality, I felt an enormous tension.                                                       

                                                         The Stone were He was laid and anointed after crucified 
I remember hearing someone say it would be easier to live when Jesus was alive. I cannot help but argue with this statement. In fact I do not even know if I would believe in Jesus if I were alive when He was. Walking these streets and imagining what it would be like is crazy. It is easier to think of the Holy land as a place far off, in the distance. I expected walking here to immediately strengthen the truth I believe. Instead, I simply have more questions. In the end, the Holy land is just another land. Yes, God blessed it, and worked through it. But still, it is just a land; it in itself cannot produce change. Touring through the Old City opened my eyes to this obvious, yet imperative fact.                            
                                                                             Western/Wailing Wall and Dome of the Rock
            It is even difficult to find a starting point. The city is a tel. Rich with ancient history, yet flourishing with modern-day life. Do I start with the past and move forward? Do I start where we are now and move back? I just want to know what it was like back then, I want to see it with my own eyes. But would that truly help? Is that really what I want, or do I really hunger for certainty which seeing will never fully bring.

Thank you so much for praying, I really need it, especially as I am fully beginning this journey. Please pray I would learn what God has for me and be fully focused on where I am.   Mark 9:24                                                     
                                                                                            Aubrey and I outside of Christ Church 
(the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East)


  1. Hey Clara!

    Found your blog through Tiffany Malloy.

    I spend some time in the Holy Land last year with the Dominicans who run the Echol Biblique (outside the Damascus Gate).

    I really resonate with the emotions you're feeling. Hang in there! You're in for some great experiences. But there's a lot of stuff to work through :)

  2. Hey! thanks for the encouragement. Yeah it's really different than I pictured. What did you do while you were here?

  3. Clara! I love reading about your insight. First I just wanted to say I love youu! And that we had popcorn and catch phrase with Eastern Encounter students last night and I think you would of liked it :] I was thinking about you, and one of the students wants to go to Israel to do the same program as you!!!

    I have 2 questions:

    I'm confused about the picture of Jesus' tomb, is it rectangular or round? That might sound weird but in all the reenacted pictures I've seen it's like this cave thing and they roll the stone away. But that might just be the little kid stories lol.

    And when you said the men where staring, they were staring at you like glaring? Do you think it was because you weren't wearing the head covering, or do you always wear it?

  4. Hey Hannah :) I love you too!! Hope you are doing well. And I miss popcorn sooo much ahaha.

    Ok soo... things I'm showing in the pictures is pretty confusing. These places are "thought to be," in other words it might not be the actual place. No one knows for sure. But, this supposed tomb is rectangular and round at the top. I'm not really sure if it's the original...probably not. It's really dark in the church, so difficult to take pictures in. And yeah the whole picture thing you see in kid stories- probably not true. I don't think the place he was actually buried was a huge cave like you see. But, it's hard to say because no one really knows. There is another place where they thought he could have been buried, called the "Garden tomb" which I will see soon. People say it looks more like the classic pictures you see in church. However, the Church of the Holy Sepulchure, was more likely the place, or closer to where it was.

    When I say staring I mean like they are always hitting on us. Literally always, everywhere. And I never wear a head covering, only in the one picture because it was a scavenger hunt :) They view women very differently. We can't ever go anywhere alone, and they encourage us to go out with guys for safety in some places. It's difficult getting used to!! I hope this helps! Do you have any other questions?? I know it probably sounds really confusing, I'm still trying to understand it all!