The concluding part of Anthony Jenkins’ diary of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land
From Capernaum, we travelled to Jericho to stand beneath the tree which Zacchaeus had climbed to get a better view of Jesus and inspected the recently excavated foundations of the walls supposedly destroyed by Joshua.
Bethlehem was our home for the next stage of our pilgrimage. As so many have before, we stood on The Mount of Olives and looked over the Kidron Valley to the Holy City itself. Pray, indeed, for the peace of Jerusalem. It saddened me to realise that we were in a country at war with most of her neighbours and unable to find peace with the Palestinian People.
We walked the Via Dolorosa, sang a Welsh hymn in the Church of St Anne, next to the Pools of Bethesda and enjoyed the coolness of the Convent of the Sisters of the Maronite Church who had prepared a delicious falafel lunch, especially, for Mones and his friends. In what should be the holiest of shrines, I was saddened by the condition of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre whereas I felt nearer to God’s presence at the Wailing Wall.
Much of the Church of the Nativity near Manger Square in Bethlehem is shrouded in scaffolding and we can only pray for an early completion of the restoration.
A day’s detour into the Judean Wilderness allowed us to float in the Dead Sea and to gaze up at the Caves of Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls had lain hidden for almost 2000 years until a shepherd boy discovered them in 1947. Our 500 metre ascent by cable car of Masada reminded us of the 1000 Jews who had chosen death rather then surrender to the Romans.
But our pilgrimage was coming to an end.
We attended evensong in the Anglican Cathedral of Jerusalem with The Archbishop of Canterbury who was installed as an Honorary Canon. On our last day, we shared communion in The Garden Tomb.
Finally, we spent a morning in Yad Vashem (“A Memorial and a Name” Isaiah 5.6).
Everyone should visit this haunting Museum of The Holocaust, set in 18 hectares of pine woods on The Mount of Remembrance, to remind us of what we, as humans, are capable of doing to each other.
Diolch o galon i Mones, Anton a Sally a fy nghyd bererinion am brofiad bythgofiadwy.