Today we went on a field trip designed by our professors to familiarize us with the geography of the area. We bused around to five significant lookouts in order to see Jerusalem and the surrounding areas from every direction. Again I was struck by the vast amount of history that made the Holy Land sacred even before Christ’s time. We discussed some of the Bible stories that occurred in each area we saw: Ruth and Boaz, Abraham coming from Hebron, Zacharias in the temple, Elijah running from Carmel. How the scriptures come to life! Seeing these notable locations and realizing that they look and feel just like normal places reminds me that the prophets of old were just normal people; normal people that trusted in God and through the enabling power of the Atonement were made exceptional.
Most of the lookouts were bell towers in Lutheran churches and it was a bit of a flashback to Europe. We went over the Christian saints, symbols and icons and I am embarrassed at how much I had forgotten since last summer! While we were in the tower of St. Victoria Augusta we had a view of the West Bank, and probably the only view we’ll have of it since we are not allowed there or in Gaza. The Church just deems the political unrest too tumultuous in those areas. Although I have understood these conflicts in concept for some time, I am still shocked at the sharp reality of the tension. This isn’t Kansas anymore…and feeling it in person has convinced me of the complexity of the situation.
It was a long day in the sun, but rich to an anxiously expanding palette.
One of the beautiful stained glass windows in Augusta Victoria