Today started with another great morning joke from Yossi, our guide, on the way to the Israeli Museum. This museum offered a 1/100 scale model of Jesusalem in the time of Jesus which allowed our group to grasp more fully the location of the sites that we have and will visit. Yossi was able to map out and explain some of the routes Jesus had most likely taken during his life and ministry. The museum was also home to the Shrine of the Book, the new house inherited by the Dead Sea Scrolls, this collection of scrolls includes the famous Isaiah Scroll which has further validated the historical accuracy of the Old Testament within academia.
Our daily dose of adventure peaked in Hezekiah's Tunnel, a several thousand year old underground passageway that led to a spring. We weaved down through a series of staircases that led through an active archeological dig site on the way to the tunnel. We felt ill prepared for what lay ahead. It was knee deep, cold running water, in a third of a mile long passage way chiseled through solid rock, at times illuminated by the loud group in front of us and at times by nothing. The tunnel ceiling pushed down on us at times so that we had to bend very low. It also narrowed at points and caused us to rub shoulders with the new rock faces unveiled only about three thousand years ago. This connected us with the multitudes of brave people who went to extreme measures for water in ancient Jerusalem. This also highlighted the ease of my life. Needless to say, the tunnel was one of the best moments of my life.
I suppose you could call this trip a spiritual pilgrimage. I remember, though, being in several historical holy places and only feeling a sense of awe for the human architectural achievement. For example, yesterday at the site of Second Temple my spiritual expectancy was slightly unfulfilled (although I still appreciated the historical significance). Anthony, our British guide at the Garden Tomb site, highlighted my emotion perfectly. We were sitting, looking onto a rock face with a humble three foot opening as Anthony kindly called out, "I hope you brought Jesus with you, because you certainly won't find him in here. My hope is that he rests with you in your heart." The statement could seem cliche at face value, but to me it rang out with resounding significance. For so long, they had just seemed like words but I get it now--I am the temple . . . he lives in me.
Thank you, Jesus, for all you have done for me even in my spiritual ignorance. May I, through you, remain this fruitful in pursuit of knowing you.
Oh, and I also found out today that the place that Jesus was most likely crucified is now a street level parking lot. That is humbling.