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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

HOLY LAND PILGRIMAGE - DAY 6: Jerusalem, Emmaus and Nazareth


Monday 20/5 Day 6

Having not been able to get near the Sepulchre when we visited on Thursday, we went accompanied by Jerome Francis, a priest from Cape Town through the old town at a quarter to five and waited with a German couple to be let into the shrine.

 Orthodox Mass was in course, which at least this morning incorporated three women whom I took to symbolise the women's early morning discovery of the empty tomb. The Orthodox were rapidly replaced by the Franciscans so there was no possibility of getting into the Sepulchre - but we had been able to have a close look at the stone on which Jesus is said to have been laid when he was cut down from the cross, the wall picture above it and the last two stations of the cross





After an early breakfast with the added complexity of having luggage ready for hotel transfer we headed to one of three putative sites for Emmaus - at Abu Ghosh which derives its claim by being sixteen stadia from Jerusalem. It was the crusader view that this was the place and the site is cared for by Benedictines. Peter Meadows sung a beatiful Nunc Dimittis while we were in the church. it was followed by one of those almost tangible silences.  the abbey site is, without doubt, the most peaceful place we have visited and Pam and several others were overwhelmed by the familiar garden flowers in the borders. I was among a number who would willingly have stayed there longer



However, Abu Ghosh has another 'attraction' ! the Elvis cafe: from the sublime to the ultra tacky in one swoop. We left with Elvis singing How Great Thou art over the coach audio system - courtesy of my iPad. A manic concession to the average age of the party and A place that had amused Bishop Stephen on an earlier pilgrimage.


Caesarea Maritima was built by Herod in Ad 22 in honour of Caesar.  Pontius Pilate lived here when not in Jerusalem where he only tended to go on high risk occasions like the main Jewish festivals. The story of Cornelius and Peter is set here and Paul was sentenced to go to Rome from the City. An AV presentation showed the fluctuating fortunes of the City which was not only sacked at various times but also seriously damaged by earthquake. The Roman ruins are magnificent with a theatre and amphitheatre only part of a massive national park on the shore of the Mediterranean. The immense scale of the amphitheatre is such that it was possible to imagine that a closely contested chariot race might come thundering towards us at any moment. Saeed was more or less insistent that someone should sing to demonstrate the remarkable acoustics of the Theatre. Peter was favourite, after his rendition of the Nunc Dimittis, but reluctant to sing again. he was , however, willing to join me to sing 'Praise my Soul The King of Heaven'. As I said to him when we finished, one of the few occasions we would be applauded for singing a hymn


The Arena at Caesarea Maritima - we're in the best seats where you can witness the carnage as charioteers vie for and/or misjudge the turn

Foot drying after paddling in the Mediterranean by the magnificent double aquaduct at Caesarea Maritima

The journey to Caesarea and then on to Nazareth was a surprise in terms of the high standard of the roads. I don't know what I expected but the motorway standard for mile after mile after mile makes this sort of extensive pilgrimage possible. During the journey Saeed told us of a terrible forest fire that had raged on one of the hillsides some years back. this was in Israeli territory. help was summoned from all the surrounding countries and American and Russian resources in the area were called on too. The Palestinian authority was not ssked for assistance but gave it voluntarily to the surprise of many. the inter-racial divide is ever present and deeply divisive, so incidents such as this bring an unusual hope with them.

The smoothness of the rides enabled several of us to take a nap, freshening us a little to walk uphill at Nazareth to the 1950s built Basilica of the Annunciation.

Another huge church over a small cave. We entered at a level, clear of almost everything then went down to the cave which is fairly simply set with a small altar behind a metal grille. Far fewer  pilgrims than anywhere in or around Jerusalem. The upper church above the clear floor is decorated with icons gifted from all over the world. Those in the church, which included a rather inaccessible one from the Uk are much larger than a considerable number in the cloisters. I was particularly drawn to an American one which Pam described as 'Mary in Ali-foil'. I thought it illustrated the assumption of Mary but it proved to be based on 'The woman who wears The Sun' from Appoliptica' (which I assumed to be Revelation, though a Bible -browser search shows nothing under that description). The attraction for me was the background of this huge montage which was a large 'cosmic swirl'
.

Outside, another opportunity to admire the bronze doors and the incised lettering of the walls. Noticed an unremarked labyrinth with Mary at the centre.


The Basilica is a very prominent building and has, since its construction caused the local Muslim community to want to build a bigger, better Mosque that would overshadow it. These plans were defeated by a threat to close all the Christian pilgrim sites - which would be a crippling blow to the Israeli economy. So, There is no great mosque but several posters around which proclaim Mohammed's superiority over Jesus. Oh dear! Peace and concord between the three Abrahamic faiths would be so much more sense - and a mighty benefit in terms of world peace. Prayers for all those engaged in multi-faith initiatives.

Final visit to the Church of Joseph's house where we reflected on the importance of day- to- day family life.

Crypt not open so a brief pause for prayer for some if us before being whisked to Tiberias and the amazing shore-line Ron Beach hotel on Galilee. A brief dip in the pool before supper. Delightful.
Move on to Day 7
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Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe
It is currently thought that the Universe has at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! Hence the use of the word ‘scintilla’ for a mere ten thousand billion.

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)
Cross and Particle Accelerator. The words of 'A Prayer for Understanding' can be viewed by clicking on this image

Nebula (Embroidery)

Nebula (Embroidery)
Nebula (Embroidery) to accompany the poem 'Invitation' which can be found by clicking on the image.

Orange Galaxy

Orange Galaxy
'Orange Galaxy' posted to accompany 'Bounded and Boundless'. Go to the poem by clicking on the image.

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower
Cosmic Icon 7 - Summerflower Nebula (Acrylic)

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth
Cosmic Ikon 8: Moth Nebula(imagined-acrylic) The Gold field of deep space is intended to convey the Lordship of Christ over the whole of the Cosmos

Surprise garden rose (Photo)

Surprise garden rose (Photo)
This beautiful head of roses in our garden, which are giving off a delightful perfume in the morning sun, seems a fitting picture to link to the sonnet 'Evolution and Beauty'. Let the picture take you there. It is a surprise because it is growing high on a bush of otherwise pure yellow roses: amazing!

Cross and Vortex

Cross and Vortex
'Cross and Vortex' to accompany 'Stars and Planets Sing Your Glory'. Click on the image to go to the poem/hymn.

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)
Gaseous Cosmic Threads: Mixed media - acrylics and painted threads

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)
Warm Umbrian Hills: Click image to take you to the poem St Francis' Sky

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)
'Cosmic Labyrinth' - This icon is a symbol of the path through the near reaches of the Cosmos with its 'Havens' where current advances in science (2012/13) are celebrated. By clicking on the picture you will be taken to the latest version of the poem of the same name.

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)
Time, perhaps to consider a restorative break before the approach of Advent/ Christmas. Let this image take you to 'On Drawing Apart'.

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)
On the South shore of Iona is a bay which shows the industrial scarring of a beautiful place. Read of it by clicking on the picture

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)
The Imaginary Butterfly Nebula . Anything like this would be a real Curiosity! The image will link you to the reflection titled 'Curiosity' which is actually a celebration of the achievement of landing the Mars Rover of that name

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)
'Light of the world' posted to accompany 'To Light'. Find the poem by clicking on the image.

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)
Iona from Fionnphort. At this point of the Isle of Mull, the end of a pilgrimage or trip to Iona is in sight. Click on this picture to take you to the poem 'IONA - The Pilgrim Way'

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)
Cross and simple prayer rope: make one like this to use as an aid to using ‘The Jesus Prayer'