Hi. I have been having issues of getting pictures off my main camera to my laptop, but today I was able to get a few off to share. Going Syrian
After hanging out a bit the open market, I went to explore some churches in the Old City. The first was called St. Mark, a Syrian Orthodox church. I had recently heard they claim to have the real Upper Room and I thought it would be interesting to see. A lady met me on the inside to give me a history of the place, the history of the Aramaic language, and about some miracles she’s witnessed. I felt bad as she talked, but my eyes kept drifting to sleep and it was a fight to keep them open as she spoke. I didn’t get much sleep the night before, and it was hot. Anyways, I couldn’t tell you if for sure this was the real place, but it was really cool none the less. The woman also sang a hymn for me in Aramaic, which was the Our Father prayer.
After St. Mark’s I headed to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I’ve been a few times before but the place is huge with lots to see. A first for me to see, there was no crowd. Normally with the crowd it feels more like a circus than a place to reflect on Jesus’s resurrection. I was able to go into the old tomb and touch the table the dead Jesus might have been laid onto. I got a little awestruck. Coming out, I saw an empty bench next to where some Greek priests and went to sit.
Is Right always Right?
On this trip, I’ve been doing just a lot of sitting and watching. The greek priests monitor the entrance of the tomb, just in case something happens. As I sat, I overheard the priests talking in greek sort of making fun of eachother. It quite funny as they usually seem so stoic and overly serious. One was tugging on the other’s beard and it sounded like they were making a bet about something I didn’t hear at the start. While they were joking, a young couple walked towards the entrance of the tomb and one of the priests motioned to them quickly. The young woman was wearing short shorts and a tube-top; a no no. The priest said she had to cover her shoulders. The man then took off his outer shirt and put it over her shoulders. They walked toward the tomb again and the same priest got up and barked at them again, saying she couldn’t enter because of her short shorts. She couldn’t go in, but the man could and left her to do so. She had a rejected look on her face and went to stand off at the side.
Watching all of this, I became pissed off. I understood the point of modesty in dress. I mean, we were in a church after all. But, I wondered what her background was, if she was a Christian or just someone checking out the church as a tourist. Would the barking priest be her impression of Jesus and Christianity? Could the situation have been handled more kindly? Knowing how to speak in greek, I had the idea to chew the priest out. I mean, he was right, but it felt so wrong. Who was he, just because he’s a priest guarding an empty tomb? Would Jesus have spoken to her like that? Instead of chewing him out, the idea came that I could just talk to her. I picked my bag and headed over to her. I told her I was sorry she couldn’t enter. She said she didn’t dress correctly. I said I hoped this didn’t ruin her impression of God or Jesus and she said she had wanted to see this place and thought it was amazing just to be there. I told her, “God bless you. You came and that counts.” I felt awkward, but I hoped it was the right thing to do. I was glad I didn’t chew out the priest, but I was still annoyed by the whole thing.
(the above picture is my favorite bread in Israel, puffy flatbread fresh from the oven)