Gethsemane’s Trees

6 Apr
Dusk at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem

Dusk at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem

Thanks for tuning into this special edition of “Stokes in Jerusalem!” We stayed there 6 days last week for Easter and because we needed to renew our Jordanian visas by exiting and re-entering the country. I’ll be posting some of my thoughts from our time there over the next few days. Here’s the first.

Good Friday (March 29, 2013) — from the Old City of Jerusalem

Yesterday, Phillip and I traveled from our apartment in Amman to the King Hussein Bridge Crossing (there are three international land crossings from Jordan to Israel/Palestine; this one is the closest to Amman). We took a bus into Jerusalem from there.

We’d planned to come for Easter several months ago and stay again in the Ecce Homo Arch Convent – we always stay here when we come into town. (How snooty does that sound??) It took from 8:00am until 2:15pm to get here. Thank you West Bank Crossing and your insanely slow manner of business. From point to point, it’s not any farther than south Atlanta is to north Macon, but customs + international relations = 6 hours and 15 minutes, that’s how it goes.

After sunset on Maundy Thursday -- remembering the events that took place among these trees so many years ago

After sunset on Maundy Thursday — remembering the events that took place among these trees so many years ago

Anyway, the highlight of yesterday (Maundy Thursday) was at sunset when we had the Garden of Gethsemane practically to ourselves. I don’t know why no one else was around, I guess they were in church services. Except for a few occasional passers through, the garden was a serene, quiet, and reflective place. Phillip says that while many of the Christian Holy sites are only speculative (due to the Bible’s lack of precise geographical detail), it is almost certain that the 21 or so preserved olive trees — several of which are at least 2,000 years old – in the garden next to the Church of All Nations/Basilica of Agony there on the Mt. of Olives are growing in the very spot. That is, the spot where the gospels record Jesus’ prayer of anguish, the disciples’ failure to stay awake and keep watch, Judas’ betrayal, and Jesus’ arrest.

My thoughts turned inward as we spent the better part of an hour standing, walking, and contemplating how Christians all over the world would be reading those passages about this place on that very day. I could barely grasp the idea that we were standing among the trees that witnessed it all.

Our thoughts spun.

The sun set.

And the gnarly old olive trees became lit from underneath by spot lights.

What a vivid setting it was.

Phillip and I standing and contemplating after sunset

Phillip and I standing and contemplating after sunset

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