Visit my Web Albums to see my adventures!
We had another field study yesterday. That basically means an educational tour slash experience of the land. It was called “Biblical Jerusalem.” Going out, I really didn't think that there was much left to see. We'd been here for about a week and a half and I'd walk all around the Old City probably ten times or so. “Little did I know.....”
We started at JUC, as usual. It's so wonderful to walk right outside our gate and be surrounded by thousands of years of history. Actually, I don't even have to leave the gate to find that. The main “event” of the morning was visiting the City of David. The idea of the City of David is debated: some want to believe he was more of a small chieftan than the man who built up Jerusalem on a little hill. I'm not sure what I believe. Probably that he was the king who started it all....but anyways. When I would read or hear about the “CITY” of David while I was still sitting in a living room or classroom of Minnesota, it all sounded so grandioso and well....far away. But visiting it....finding the hill. The HILL. There's just this tiny little portion of Jerusalem that David was stationed on. If modern day Jerusalem was my hand, the City of David is the very tip of my pinky. It's just this tiny hill. But the size is not meant to downplay the importance of the area. It was an incredible “city” for his day. Please check out the link to my pictures to see a few ancient walls from this city.
The next main event was quite a ways below our feet: Hezekiah's tunnel. This tunnel was built as a way for water to get in, if I'm not mistaken. It was chiseled away little by little and my own professor Gary Long had told us quite a bit of his studies of this tunnel, so I found it extra fascinating. Well, we all went through it. Yeah, that sounds normal I suppose. Easily read right over. But let me explain this tunnel for the clostrophobics, just to instill a little fear in everyone so they can all be proud of me. ;) The tunnel width was just a slightly larger than my shoulder width, the bottom of the tunnel a little less than that at times. The height at certain spots was about 5 foot or so. Which really wasn't too bad for me because I'm not extremely tall, but I still had to duck. The poor 6'3'' guys probably had a rough time with those spots. Now, these dimensions really aren't too bad to just walk through a tunnel, except for the fact that it's completely dark if you don't have a flashlight, there's cold water flowing up to your ankles, calves, and occasionally thighs, and the journey is about 30 minutes long, one way. I'm not gonna lie, I tried backing out of the adventure, but only in my head. I really couldn't NOT go through, ya know? Well...it was very exciting and as long as I kept telling myself that the walls weren't gonna collapse on top of me and all of us get trapped there, I was fine. Haha, but everything was completely fine and safe. So don't worry.
Well, the morning was incredibly exhausting, mostly just because of the Swain-like hills (plural) we had to trudge up on the way back. For those of you unfamiliar with my simile, Swain was a half a mile hill in Duluth I ran for Cross Country: the most dreaded meet of the season. But at least we weren't racing in Israel. Anyhoo...we had lunch which was quite refreshing and started out again. The afternoon/early evening was filled with the pools that Jesus healed a few guys by (or one of the places they think is likely) and a crusader built church with acoustics that would rival Bethel's Great Hall and win indefinitely. Any little hum was audibly illuminated (not to confuse the senses). It was incredible. We all sang a few hymns and I swear that there's a mystical presence that takes away all flat notes sung or other audible evils. It was really cool. Our next stop was at another church, the Holy Sepulchre. This is one of the spots (and most likely the one) that Jesus was crucified and buried. This is a difficult place for me to go into because everything is adorned with some sort of jewels or candles or ornate lanterns and icons and ...it's a very un-western place. Cindy Parker told us to go back multiple times so we can get over the visual stimuli that's so distracting and really grasp the place...even though it has been built upon. I will have to do this. If only my religious and political angst could mend itself quickly so I'd feel a little more at ease with it all. I say this with the utmost sincerity. It is a strange land that brings up theological, scriptural, political, and experiential issues that I did not expect to stew within me after only one week of being here. Schism seems a good word....
Well make sure you check out my pictures on flickr. They aren't all labeled yet, but I will get to that soon. The internet is a bit confused at JUC. ;) Until another day...