Thursday, February 25, 2010

Walking in the footsteps

The Rev and I are hardly world travelers but we have had a couple of opportunities to travel in ancient lands. One of the things that intrigues me the most about this is the chance to walk were others have gone before. When we were in Ephesus a couple of years ago, I was moved by walking up the road that had felt the feet of Paul and the chariot wheels of Anthony & Cleopatra so many years before.

On this trip, I had hoped that I would be able to walk in the footsteps of those names I had grown up reading about in church. It isn't easy in the Holy Land to find such places. This turf has been fought over, conquered, re- conquered, liberated, and occupied for so many centuries that finding a spot from the biblical times is not easy. We did find a couple of places that are thought to be from those days.

The first is a section of paving stones that is thought to be from a main street in Jerusalem from the Roman period. It is entirely possible that Jesus and/or some of the disciples trod on these very stones.

The other place we found is a set of stairs going up to where the palace of Caiaphas is thought to have been. It is thought that these were the steps Jesus used when he was arrested.

The Holy Land is an interesting place to visit as a tourist or pilgrim. I am used to visiting historic places and seeing the preserved site or reconstructed ruins. That is sort of the way we do things in America. When we find a site of historical importance, we fence it off and try to preserve it in it's original condition or at least a recreation of that state. Of course, our sites are not as ancient and have not been revered for as many years. In this area, in earlier times, the way of marking a cite was to build a church on it. It took some getting used to - the experience of going to a place and being told, this is the church that commemorates the site of such and such event.

I understand the need. This land has been fought over for centuries. Many of these churches have been built, destroyed, re-built and destroyed again and again.

I was reminded time and again how hard it is for us as a people to find. . .

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