Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lock the Holy Sepulchre Part 4

After reflecting upon Mary’s tears and the sadness displayed in her eyes I walked slowly to Golgotha. Although the two are perhaps only two feet apart from one another I had never had the freedom to look up close or stand as long as I wanted in front of Golgotha. I realized the advantage of my solitariness at this place and took each step with care and prayer.

The altar area is so busy whether you’re alone or with hundreds of other people. It’s busy with glitz and gold, silver and angels, lanterns, icons and plexi-glass covered rock which is the rock of Golgotha where Jesus’ cross was anchored when it was raised. Inside of the altar there is a small hole that you can place your hand and touch the rock. This is what people stand in line for. It has sort of an X marks the area feel to it. (not the rock but the concept) I remember the first time that I saw Golgotha. It was not what I had expected at all, in fact my non-Christian friends who were with me kept looking intently at me waiting for me to have some sort of spiritual experience. Nada, none, nothing. I said to them, “this is so not my understanding of Jesus’ crucifixion”. What I didn’t realize then as I do now that this demonstration of piety, devotion, and reverence is the Orthodox Christians expression of sorrow and thanksgiving.
Like everything else that has changed for me in Jerusalem, I now understand the importance and significance of iconic representation of Jesus’ life. My attitude has changed as well. Icons are meant to transport you from the world of the mundane and material to the spiritual. There is something very mystical about them and icons have been venerated throughout the history of Christianity. I let my Protestant biases against all of this representation go. Poof! It felt good and less like I had to internalize and carry this imagery within me. I didn’t have to worry, all I had to do was to gaze upon this demonstration of love and be transported back in time.

I stood and looked so closely at the images and at the jewels and flowers that adorn them. There are small frescoes of angel heads with wings fluttering all around.

After looking closely at all there was to see on Golgotha I kneeled down in front of the cross on the marble mosaic floor. It was not long before I leaned forward and rested my forehead too on the cool mosaic. I stayed in that position for some time.

1 comment:

Dina said...

Ah good, Jerusalem has done her work on you.