Good Tractors + Good Friday

9 Apr
Watch your toes as these tractors frequently come through Jerusalem's Old City streets.

Watch your toes as these tractors frequently come through Jerusalem’s Old City streets.

continued from Jerusalem during Easter/Passover, March 2013…

Somewhat sleep deprived for 3 nights prior to our journey from Amman, Phillip and I took morning naps after breakfast today.  The extra hours further relieved the soreness in my legs from yesterday’s walking and rejuvenated us with energy for another day out and about.There’s lots and lots of walking in the Old City.

People do drive cars through the narrow, European-esque streets, but you do have stand with your back to the wall sometimes to give them sufficient space to pass.  And watch your toes!   (Side note:  they also drive small tractors through the streets that pull carts of produce.  Side note to the side note:  I saw a tractor driver texting while driving down the ancient streets.  I can hear the mothers of Jerusalem telling their sons, “Don’t text and tractor!”)

Still, the vast amount of “traffic” is on foot.  There are 4 quarters/quadrants that make up the Old City:  Muslim, Jewish, Christian, & Armenian (see map).  Anyone can walk through any of the quarters; the names are given I suppose according to the shopkeepers and residents that occupy each area.  Despite the names though, you will find churches in the Muslim quarter – like the Ecce Homo Arch Convent where Phillip and I stayed.

The convent has multi-level terraces (flat roofs) where we enjoyed many lovely views of the Old City.  We could see Christian Pilgrims carrying crosses down on the Via Dolorosa (just at ground level of the convent).  Their singing (in various languages) echoed through the stone streets and walls.  It was a very cool way to wake up the Saturday and Sunday of Easter.

Ecce Homo Arch Convent -- this is the place we stayed.  The multi-level rooftop terraces offered gorgeous views at every time of day.

Ecce Homo Arch Convent — this is the place we stayed. The multi-level rooftop terraces offered gorgeous views at every time of day.

The minoret tower (and speaker) are very close to the convent, and you WILL be woken up by the morning call to prayer!

The minoret tower (and speaker) are very close to the convent, and you WILL be woken up by the morning call to prayer!

Sunrise behind the Mt. of Olives as viewed from the convent.

Sunrise behind the Mt. of Olives as viewed from the convent.

For me, the highlight and most contemplative part of today (Good Friday) was visiting the Church of St. Peter in Galicantu.  Why?  Because although it is another “traditional” spot – as opposed to a definite spot – the stone cisterns beneath the church are undoubtedly quite similar to what would’ve been found beneath Caiaphas’ house where Jesus was kept after his arrest and where Peter denied him three times.  The Galilean accent gave Peter away; Phillip can tell you how accents in Arabic really associate the speaker with a particular place – much more so than an English speaker’s does.

Far down under the church of Byzantine (1st century rocks) was a small room/cistern that you could walk down into.  It was empty except for a small wooden stand where a book rested.  I turned some of its pages to find that Psalm 88 was printed in more than 50 languages.  I found it very descriptive for what Jesus might’ve been feeling during his imprisonment.

Inside a cistern at the church of St. Peter in Galicantu -- a room similar to the one at Caiaphas' house where Jesus would've been kept after his arrest.

Inside a cistern at the church of St. Peter in Galicantu — a room similar to the one at Caiaphas’ house where Jesus would’ve been kept after his arrest.

Psalm 88

1Lord, you are the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out to you.
2 May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.

3 I am overwhelmed with troubles
and my life draws near to death.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am like one without strength.
5 I am set apart with the dead,
like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
who are cut off from your care.

6 You have put me in the lowest pit,
in the darkest depths.
7 Your wrath lies heavily on me;
you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
8 You have taken from me my closest friends
and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
9 my eyes are dim with grief.

I call to you, Lord, every day;
I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you show your wonders to the dead?
Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
11 Is your love declared in the grave,
your faithfulness in Destruction?
12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

13 But I cry to you for help, Lord;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why, Lord, do you reject me
and hide your face from me?

15 From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
I have borne your terrors and am in despair.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your terrors have destroyed me.
17 All day long they surround me like a flood;
they have completely engulfed me.
18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
darkness is my closest friend.

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