As I run out of time, I am taking more time to get out and explore. Sometimes you get so busy that you forget to just take the time for yourself to enjoy. Well on Wednesday I was able to get out and explore myself. It actually killed a few giants with one stone. First, I was able to tick a few things I wanted to do off my list. Second, I could take the camera and film some landscape and city shots for cutaways. However, the real reason I wanted to go was because I have been working on a camera show reel and I was missing a shot that I wanted. I really wanted to get one more good landscape/time-lapse to throw in. So I was able to get a few and now the decision of what to put in/leave out is weighing on my mind mildly.
My day started out by catching a ride to the central bus station and then grabbing the train to Damascus Gate, just in the fringe of East Jerusalem. Walking North from there about 300 meters is the Garden Tomb. The Garden Tomb is something that I saw back in 2009, but had yet to make it there this time. Until Wednesday. The garden is lovely, and so peaceful. It is interesting because it really is like an Oasis in the middle of this crazy city. You go in and it is like you are transported to another world outside of the hustle and bustle. The fact that it is so significant, quiet, and peaceful, despite the fact that there are tour groups there all the time is a testament to the place it is and the Holy reverence due it.
I took the short walk through the garden to the lookout over skull hill. Golgotha, the place of Christ’s crucifixion has been translated as “place of the skull”. Well you can look over this hill that has a rocky face that looks very much like a skull. New Testament text states that Jesus was crucified before Shabot, which means that his place of burial would have had to have been near his place of death. After sun down, Shabot starts and there is no work to be done, which means that Jesus’s followers would have had to of worked quickly to ensure getting the job done in time. So two minutes away, there is the tomb where they laid Christ’s body in and started to grieve.
Of course, we all know what happened next. Sunday comes around and the tomb is empty. Jesus’s followers are confused at first, but then Jesus appears to them in resurrected for over the course of 40 days and proves his triumph over death. Hallelujah.
It’s a great place to go, and pray, and just take a minute to spend in reflection of this awesome event.
As you may not know, the Garden Tomb is not universally accepted as the actual site of Jesus’s Death and Resurrection. There is another site, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre that is also claimed by many as the authentic site.
But what a contrast between the two. The Church is a big stone monolith with aspects of incredible beauty in the architecture and artwork, but is chaotic as crowds of pilgrims fight for room between the stone pillars. It is noisy as echoes upon echoes of dialogue from the many tour groups there are an annoying distraction from the purpose of the place. I almost didn’t go, but decided I better to see it and get a fresh perspective from my experience four years ago.
Four years ago I got yelled at by a priest for wearing a hat in the middle of the church. Oops, sorry. Apparently God the Son, Jesus, is not a hat person, but God the Father, YHWH, is because you can’t go pray at the Western Wall without one.
Anyways, the Garden Tomb was my first stop on the day and Church of the Holy Sepulchre was my last. What did I do in between? Well I wanted to get some nice video shots with the camera, so I was strolling the streets of the old city looking for some interesting things to film.
I entered the Old City through the Damascus gate, which took my into the Christian Quarter of the City. Throughout the city there are merchants selling there little trinkets and such. Many try to get you to buy, but a firm no and keeping moving is the solution. Avoid the window shopping. I filmed a nice time-lapse at Damascus gate, then kept the cameras running for several minutes as I walked the streets of the city.
I eventually made my way down to the vistas that overlook the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock. Another time-lapse (actually a few) were done here.
The Dome of the Rock is controversial because it is a Muslim shrine on the location of the most holy site in the world. A lot of Christians have issues with it. They don’t want to film it, they don’t want to look at it, and they don’t want to regard it in any way. I think this is a mistake. To not acknowledge the Dome of the Rock is to throw away 1300 years of Jerusalem History. History that shaped the way we view Jerusalem today. While I believe in a Jewish Temple there, I do think that to disregard that history makes us no better than many Muslims, who revise history all the time to exclude Christians and Jews.
Either way, it’s there. It is a stunning structure. Agree with it or not, but don’t deny it’s existence. That’s just silly.
I made my way down to the Wall. I still had my camera with me, filming much of the way. I had been down to a wall a few times already, but this was the first time I had gone down by myself on personal time. It was amazing to go pray there. While I believe that prayer is powerful no matter where you are, I kept help but think that maybe I was just a little better focused in composing my thoughts to the almighty there.
After that it the sun was starting to set. I began to wind up my adventure in the old city, with the detour at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to come. I exited the Old City by the Jaffa gate and proceeded to head up Jaffa street to my favourite little Shawarma stand for some good eats, before catching the bus back home. All in all a good day. A lot of walking, and went to be early that night. Needed the sleep.
God Bless you all. I can’t believe that in not much more than two weeks I will be back in Vancouver and seeing many of you for the first time in almost 9 months. Keep me in prayer. I have a lot of stuff I need to get done, and a lot of stuff I want to do in these final two weeks before I end up departing. God Bless. Paul
Below are some more pictures of my day. From churches, to mosques, to buskers, and everything else. Enjoy.