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…….The World Without Boundaries

Jerusalem oh Jerusalem

Written By: jipp - Sep• 08•15

Jerusalem needs no introduction. It’s like the melting pot of religions; with some of the biggest religions in the world have a connection to this city in one way or another. It even involved wars in the past and even until now this city is still brewing with a lot of conflicts that can sometimes turn nasty. Still, it draws people from around the globe and it is the dream destination for most Christians because it was there that Jesus was crucified and rose from death 3 days later to mark the resurrection which is considered the pillar foundation of Christian faith.

Being one of the oldest cities in the world, it really is hard to describe Jerusalem in the simplest words. It is beautiful – there is no doubt it – a bit hilly and the city center is sandwiched between hills and the residential areas have expanded to the point that I can’t even see the edges.

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You can see at the buildings and know for sure that some of them have been there to be the witnesses of time even before Jesus was born about 2000 years ago. In fact, Jerusalem is mentioned so many times in the Old Testament so you know it was already there way before He came to this world to save – well – us.

I arrived in Jerusalem late in the evening and I instantly wanted to explore the city. I tip-toed my way out of the hotel towards where I believe the Old Quarters was located. It was nearing winter so it was quite freezing cold. The Old Quarters area is marked by high walls – probably 10 meters high or more – and going inside the area felt so surreal. It was like being thrown back to the medieval time when witches and sorcerers and probably Peter Pan were still roaming the surface of the earth.

It was like walking in a maze of streets and I could easily lose my way somewhere in between. Some of the streets looked very empty and mysterious that I really felt like walking further deep into any of them and find out whatever there was to find out down there. I could see that most of the people living or at least selling stuff within the Old Quarters were Muslims judging from the way they dress – which I assumed were Palestinians – although it was quite difficult to know if they really were Muslims or Palestinians. Jerusalem is having its own share of immigrant crisis so it is more like a mix of different races and cultures.

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The Damascus Gate – One of the entrance gates to the Old Quarters

People seemed to be walking very briskly so I had to remind myself every now and then that I was NOT one of them – that I was a traveler and I should allow myself to observe whatever there was to observe. LOL. That was how I opened my trip to Jerusalem – by venturing into the streets on the very first night.

Of course, being with a group of pilgrims, an itinerary was already fixed for us (and it was meant to be broken at times of course). We went to some of the holiest sites in Christian world, which was actually quite aplenty because it was in Jerusalem that Jesus spent most of his adult time preaching and teaching.

If you are a Christian, and you read quite a bit of The Holy Bible, you might get disappointed if you go to Jerusalem and find out that it was nothing like how you imagined it was. That was exactly what happened to me. I mean, it’s been more than 2000 years so you can’t expect things to stay the way they are within that very long period of time.

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And I gotta say, I did have some doubts about some of the sites that I went to – like, if an incidence that was mentioned in the Bible really took place at a site as described by the tour-guide. I mean, it’s not that I doubt about what was mentioned in the Bible but I was just questioning (without actually questioning) the exact location. Again, we are talking about 2000 plus years here so you really never know.

I remember going to the place where Jesus is said to have left a mark of his footprint just before he ascended to Heaven, and there was one hell of a huge footprint on a square concrete pavement. I mean, seriously? I couldn’t help but refusing to join the others to touch the footprint because I just didn’t believe that Jesus was standing right there before he ascended. I just – didn’t. Somehow.

My most memorable moment in Jerusalem has got to be the Stations of the Cross that we did in the wee hours of the morning – along the path (I wouldn’t say the exact path. I mean, com’on again, we are talking about 2000 plus years here) that Jesus was made to walk on while carrying his very own cross towards Golgotha where he was then crucified.

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It really was such an emotional moment for me because well – I might have done the Station of the Cross (a series of prayers that involves processing from one station to another in commemoration of  Jesus’ painful walk towards his crucification) several times in my life but there is nothing like walking on the path that Jesus took when he was led by his prosecutors to his crucification right here in city of Jerusalem. It really felt like I was thrown back to that very day and witnessed the walk and prosecution right before my very own eyes. I felt so blessed and humbled at the same time.

Mind to tell you that Jerusalem is a place inhabited by people of different faiths and religions (and some even don’t have any) so you can’t simply expect people to be really nice to you or your faith or even your religion. We were at the very last station when somebody shouted at us from a window – asking us to shut the hell up – which was quite understandable because it was 6 or 7 in the morning when much of the city was still asleep. Our tour leader, who thankfully had quite much of experience under his belt himself, had never failed to amuse me when it comes to handling such a situation. He would usually ask his entourage to just ignore – because such disruption might have been set-up by a Satan or something – and go on doing with whatever it was that we were doing. I found it really amusing. LOL.

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Then there was one time when we were doing a mass at Golgotha, right next to the spot where Jesus was crucified, when one of the guards did a very loud “shhhhhhhhhhhh!” to us when we were singing a song as part of the mass. It was very rude but then I’d say the tour leader should have known that it wasn’t allowed to sing at the site which is considered the holiest of holiest site in Christian world. Right before the mass we were queuing up while waiting for our turns to kiss the cross on the very spot where Jesus was crucified  – and I think one of two of the aunties were making quite a bit of noise that the janitor kinda lost his cool and yelled at them.

He even asked where we were from (I remember him saying – Jesus! Where are you guys from??! LOLOLOL)  and I was so close to saying that we were from Singapore (not wanting to give Malaysia such a bad name than it already had) but then again, I thought, I was there standing right in front of the cross on the very site where Jesus my Lord was crucified 2000 years ago so there was no way I’d ever want to lie right there. It was the worse place to commit a sin and with that in mind, I had to say “Malaysia” in a lowered voice and with my head bowed down. I gotta say, part of me wanted to say FUCK YOU – like very very badly. LOL.

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And of course my visit to Jesus’ tomb although His body was only there for 3 days. It really was quite a long and slow-moving queue but then again we are talking about hundreds if not thousands of pilgrims from all over the world coming to this place every single day – hoping to see the place where Jesus’ body was laid to rest (for 3 days) at least once in a lifetime. Just as it was mentioned in the Bible, it was located quiet near to His crucification site. I only didn’t expect it was THAT close – probably less than 300 yards away and they are both now covered under the roof of the gigantic Sepulture Church.

I was inside the tomb for less than 5 minutes – probably not even 3. The door-keepers are very strict about the time allocation and only 2-3 people are allowed in at one time. They are not even the friendliest persons that you’d ever expect to see especially at a holy place like Jesus’ tomb. I did  have time to say a very brief prayer and of course one or two snaps of photos despite the very strict no-photo regulation. I mean, Jesus would have understood. The regulation was made by people and sometimes man-made regulations are meant to be broken. Heh.

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There are just so many amazing things about the Holy City of Jerusalem that I really want to write about but of course I can’t put them all in in one post. I mean, it’s Jerusalem for Christ’s sake. It’s all over the Holy Book and you hear it mentioned in just about every reading at Sunday masses. It has to be more than one post.

Until again.

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