Thursday, July 22, 2010

Greek Altar at Calvary

From our retreat book for today:

"What is worthy of outcry to God?"

I remember standing here 10 years ago and thinking that the place where pilgrims commemorate the crucifixion was over-decorated. I remember wishing that it was simpler, less ornate. I had only seen photos of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in passing and hadn't really paid attention, so my mind had pictured things differently.

And then, when I stood here for the first time, I found myself distracted, as I did today, by the memory of the places I had visited in West Bank, the people I had met, their stories. I had stood in the places where Jesus continues to be crucified every day. That's what I took to prayer 10 years ago, and that's what I continue to take to prayer today.

So, I crawled under the altar, felt inside the smaller altar for the rock underneath, and remembered that thousands upon thousands of pilgrims have done the same thing. I looked past the ornate-ness and remembered that I have met people in Bethlehem who haven't ever been to this site, or any other holy site, because they are not allowed to travel here. I remembered the ones who have had their houses bulldozed, their arms broken, their children killed, their lives shattered. They are Jesus, crucified in the Holy Land, in a place other than this.

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