From Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale

People disappear when they die. Their voices, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living mempry of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continut to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humour, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.

--Diane Setterfield

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Trip III pt two

Okay where was I?...
Orson Hyde Park - I was surprised to learn that Orson Hyde is popular in Israel. His dedicatory prayer is learned by all the kids in school*. !!! The garden was pretty for a desert garden, it was terraced because it's on a hill (called the Mount of Olives) and it has an amazing view of the city. The park is a Israeli National Park and people from the community keep it clean*. We hiked back to the bus and went to the Upper Room of the Last Supper, the traditional site where Christ and the twelve had the Last Supper and also where Jesus returned, resurrected and showed himself to doubting Thomas. The chapel we went into had good acoustics again and Tom sang for us and then we all sang. Even though the building is newer (1335 AD) the site could very well be the correct one according to recent archeological investigation. We learned that during the time of Christ women drew the water from the wells; women and Essenes*** would carry water in pitchers.I felt a special spirit there. We left and went to the Palace of Caiaphas****. We didn't go into the chapel on the level of the house, instead we went into the basement dungeons where Jewish religious prisoners***** were kept. There was a main dungeon where criminals were chained to the walls and a pit or cell dungeon (this is an excellent link!). The only way in and out of it was by a hole in the top of the room so the really bad guys, serial killers and the like, including Jesus, would have been lowered into and pulled out by ropes tied around their shoulders. It was tall enough to stand in, but the floor would have been covered in mire+ and it would have been not pleasant to say the least. There is still a hole in the wall where a guard in the main dungeon could have checked in on the guest in the pit. We walked out and behind the chapel / Palace and saw the ancient steps that led from the Kidron Valley to the Palace. A few years ago tourists were able to walk++ those steps, where Christ would have walked directly after being arrested in Gethsemane. It was powerful to see the path that Jesus would have walked. From the steps you can see the Garden of Gethsemane and the way he would have to had come. It is not short and it's all uphill and he just bled from his pours over the sins that you and I make, before he had to make the trek. !!! Then we made our way up to the porch where Peter was admitted through a secure door+++ and there were statues depicting Peter denying Christ three times before the cock crowed. Then the group split up and most people went to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum while a few went and walked the ramparts of the old city. We had lunch at our respective destinations. In Houston the Holocaust Museum is dark and creepy, depicting the atrocities that occurred and what the Jews went through in graphic pictures and detail. I was not excited to see more of that, but I figured it would be weird to go to the land of the Jews and not visit the Holocaust Museum++++. Mom and I stuck together and we tried to find the grisly, dark gallery of pictures and descriptions. We really did. Instead we found a beautiful and tasteful grouping of galleries and information centers. The galleries we went into had art from prisoners and Jews during that period. There was everything from ballerinas to political comics to stories from the Bible. We visited the Hall of Remembrance which was moving in it's own way. The building was made from basalt (black volcanic stone) or something else dark and stony. There were huge stones making the walls and a catwalk around the perimeter. The center of the room had names of camps and a fire in an abstract metal sculpture with wreaths at it's base. As we were there a visitor brought another wreath to the guard at the door+++++ . It was my favorite exhibit. We also went to the Learning Center where we listened to video recordings of professors talking about how the Holocaust has been portrayed and it's shape in history. They discussed how it is changing as the generation who saw things first hand is dieing away. There was concern that it will get diminished and even erased from history. On the website, there are more exhibits and darker things, but we didn't find them and I was left with a very positive feeling. It was not dark and depressing, instead I found it to be a beautiful memorial. When the groups got back together, we went to Golgotha and the Garden Tomb. (I forgot to mention that at the end of the Via Dolorosa, we stopped at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and saw the traditional burial site of Christ`) The Garden is now property of and cared for by a British Trust. Our guide was a very friendly British guy and he gave a great introduction. We were not there during the 'right' time of day to see the skull, but it was still visible to us. We took pictures and then visited the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea where many people have felt impressions that Christ was buried. We went inside and saw where Christ's body would have laid and the other compartment that was not finished. The garden had a wine press and huge cistern that is still used to water the plants in the garden. We went to one of the groups of benches provided and had a devotional and sang songs until just about closing time. We took more pictures and were kicked out, in a very polite, British way, from the Garden. We went back to the hotel and enjoyed dinner. The Hotel we stayed in is the Olive Tree Hotel. It was so nice! My favorite part was the huge olive tree that was in the center of the main dining room. They had very tasty food and delicious chocolate croissants for breakfast. I had one each day we were there.

*All kids in Israel go to school from ages 6 to 18. Jewish children go to schools segregated from Muslim and Christian kids but it is state law to have one hour a week of religion taught^ regardless of the religion of their school.

^ It breaks down like this: one hour each week the Jewish kids go over Jewish religion in their classrooms and over in the Muslim / Christian schools the kids separate out into their respective religions to have religion class. Muslims learn about Islam and Christians learn about Christianity. I don't know where the Druz (more about them later) fit in...

**BYU students also come and regularly scrub graffiti off the rocks

*** Essenes were a celibate sect of Jews and so had no women to carry water for them. The part of the city where the Upper Room is located is in a know to have been inhabited by Essenes.

****Today it's outside the city walls but at the time of Christ it would have been inside and a grave has been found that has Caiaphas' name on it, suggesting that it is the correct site.

*****Romans controlled the empire, but they knew that they couldn't govern the religion in all the places they conquered so they let local leaders (that they appointed) take care of persons who broke religious laws. The Sanhedrin were those Jewish rulers and Caiaphas was their leader.

+(which would most likely have included excrement in it)

++ They are closed now, and we could see the erosion where some steps are missing and the footing could be dangerous.

+++ Peter was given aid by either Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus. They were members of the Sanhedrin who were also disciples of Christ.

++++ I imaging that I'd want to see what they have in Germany if I go there someday...

+++++There was a guard posted to ensure men had their head covered (they provided paper hats) and that we were silent and reverent.

`It was very ornate and didn't feel spiritual to me. I did touch the rock that tradition says Christ was dressed for burial. The tomb was covered and a little scary looking because of all the candles lit around it and the soot that has blackened the outside. I didn't go inside, the line was huge. There was also chapels for the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Church right in front of the Sepulcher, they shared a room and were split by a 3/4 wall. It was interesting to see the difference between the different chapels.

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