Most of a pilgrimage trip like the one that I am on is about remembrance. So each and every new day we walk places that were mentioned in our Scripture or are contemporaneous with our Scripture or are traditional in the history of our church (that is church with a small “c”, as in church universal). And yesterday was like the Olympics of remembering, as we prayed at the Western Wall, visited the Temple Mount, and walked the Via Dolorosa up to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, then continued our pilgrimage to the City of Hebron, visiting the tombs of Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Leah, and ending our day at Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem memorial to those killed in the Holocaust.
Of course, in the midst of such a holy, moving day, it fell to me to provide the comic relief. I apparently seriously miscalculated the length of my skirt for our visit to the Temple Mount and got an opportunity to experience Arab fashion first hand.
But that episode was quickly forgotten amidst the sights and sounds that surrounded us. And nothing brought forward the pain of remembrance with more intensity than our last visit, the visit to Yad Veshem. I have personally avoided visiting the Holocaust Museum which is right down the street from where I live because I was not certain that I could stand the pain of that remembrance again. But here, surrounded by new friends, I walked that walk. And it was particularly chilling having just returned from deep within the West Bank. There, while still below the surface, the tensions are palpable and it is the first time that we have seen soldiers everywhere. Yes, this is a complicated land.
This land has a very complicated history and I am afraid a complicated future. And remembering here is sometimes hard: it was hard to focus on remembering the way of Christ, when it leads you through the Arab souk. And it is very, very hard to walk through Yad Vashem, remembering how few Christians of that day stood up against what was going on. It is very hard, when you have to ask yourself the question — what am I not standing up for now?
Thank goodness for a little comic relief. I am always happy to oblige.