Several years ago, I was blessed to be in the Holy Land, walking the Via Dolorosa with my husband and fellow pilgrims. When we returned, the Stations of the Cross and indeed the whole Bible took on a new, very vivid meaning that remains alive and well.
Today, as I prayed the Stations of the Cross with a small group of ladies, I saw again the places along the Way. I remember it all: Mass in the Chapel of Christ’s Condemnation, stopping at each station, truly trying to understand the pain and suffering that Jesus experienced. Each pilgrim took a turn carrying a large wooden cross. Mind you, this cross was no where near the weight of the cross that Jesus carried.
You realize a little (a very little) what it must have been like: loud, pushing crowds in narrow streets, perhaps a wet and cold day making the cobblestones slippery. At one point, we had to push our way through a blockade that soldiers had set up, much to the anger of others who were not let though. Only minutes later, the crowd was dispersed with tear gas.
The Way of the Cross ends in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, my favorite church in the world (granted, with limited travel experience). I felt the closest to Jesus there. I could live there! In fact, there is a man, American I think, that spends his days in the church, dressed in “Jesus” clothes and no shoes. Takes your breath away for a second when you come around a winding Jerusalem street corner and see him.
Visiting the Holy Land and walking where Jesus walked is truly an amazing experience. It’s a journey that I never thought I’d take but am so thankful for the opportunity.
Photos: (1) Stations of the Cross detail, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Israel, (2) Carrying a cross along the Via Dolorosa, Israel, (3) Mass inside the tomb, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Israel