Waking up this morning to the call to prayer over the Dome of the Rock and the Mount of Olives brought it home - we're actually here. We have been thinking about the pilgrimage to since last summer and when I heard the cock crow at 4:20am, the image of Peter's denial came to mind so I decided it was morning and got up and went outside to watch the sunrise of the sunrise. Straight ahead, the Temple Mount, below me, the Kidron Valley, to the south, the garden of Gethsemane. It's all so real, as we hoped it would be. The Gospels in full color, surround sound.
Later in the morning we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I expected Golgotha to be a powerful place, but I was really surprised by my own reaction to it. As we reached the bottom of the steps to the top of the rock, I was the last to begin climbing, but I did not want to go up. I hesitated, asking myself what right I had to go up to this place, where Christ died willingly and excruciatingly for me. I felt like someone should be checking spiritual resumes before allowing entry to this place. But I climbed the stairs to find a LOT of other people up there. But I felt sick to the stomach, struggling to take in the significance of this place. We will be returning there, but there is already much to pray about with even just the brief moment we had today.
Shortly afterwards, we celebrated Mass just a 100ft from the tomb of our Lord. We we unable to enter today since it was very busy, but again the proximity of this site was not lost of me. Then to lay our hands on the rock it is believed Christ wept upon in the garden on Holy Thursday, which is set into the floor of the Church that stands at this point in the garden of Gethsemane...such a grace. And this was all in one day!?