I haven’t had a chance to post since we moved our trip to Jerusalem but it has continued to be a lifechanging pilgrimage. I am beginning to view this trip as a pilgrimage more and more as things on my faith journey become into a clearer perspective.
Initial thoughts on Jerusalem were good. Looks and feels like a metropolitan city with a diverse group of people. The longer we are here, the more comfortable you (at least I do) become. People make eye-contact with you on the streets and say hello or shalom or smile. The average person in Jerusalem is just like anywhere else trying to balance family, career, and keep things in this conflict ridden area as normal as possible.
The Old City of Jerusalem is just a few blocks away from our hotel and is quite accessible via foot. The four distinct quarters (Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Armenian) of the Old City are bustling with life and capitalism! Funny moment today: We are walking along the market street in the Muslim section of town when a Arab man tries to sell us a Jewish prayer shawl! Capitalism tears down many walls to say the least.
The most striking part of our trip was to Jericho and the Dead Sea which sits about 15 miles east of the city of Jerusalem. You are not out of the city of Jerusalem before the terrain turns mountainous desert. It is a beautifully rugged landscape as you travel down 4,000 feet to the Dead Sea from Jerusalem. You get the sense of how easy it would have been for David to hide from Saul in these mountains.
Bethlehem sits approximately 3 miles outside of Jerusalem and is visible from many parts of the city. It is part of the West Bank which is under Palestinian control. No problem getting in, Israeli passport check to get back out! The Israeli soldiers were joking about Kentucky Fried chicken with us as they checked our passports and walked through the bus carrying automatic weapons. When you realize that much of the security efforts around Israel are for your benefit, it makes a big difference. We have not felt threatened in the least bit.
I continue to process things internally and know that it will take a while before all that I have seen and heard will sink in. It makes me realize how much more there is to know about the land and the people of our Scriptures.