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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Calvary: Walking in the Way of the Cross

Today I walked the way of the Cross. I walked the Via Dolorosa.

In truth, I had not felt the call to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the past seven weeks. Today I thought I would just stop by and visit, like an old friend. But when I got to the place where I could first see Calvary's Cross (the cross on top of the Golgotha Chapel), my breath caught in my throat and I felt the holiness of the place, in the midst of the street, in the middle of the market as I looked up at that cross and began making my way towards it, as had generations of pilgrims before me, walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is an overwhelming collection of churches and chapels enfolded under one massive structure.
For me the most holy place there is the double chapel formed by the intersection of the Calvary (Crucifixion, Golgotha) Chapel and the Place of Nailing (where Jesus was nailed to his cross). The intersection, an arch leading from one to another, has the words Stabat Mater, "where his Mother stood." (I did not get a good shot of the mosaic inscription.)

The Calvary Chapel also has some of the old bedrock from the Golgotha Hill. The rock of Jerusalem is the enduring image I am taking with me from this trip: the rock on which Ibrahim/Abraham bound Ishmael/Isaac and from which Muhammad ascended, now in the Dome of the rock, the stone walls of Jerusalem - old and new, the surviving wall of the temple in which the Living God resided, and the rock hill on which God-in-human-form shed his blood and died. These rocks speak to me. They are the bones and soul of this holy city.

Here is a slide show:

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