I've written before about the via dolorosa. It's a place that was almost mythical in my mind. I imagined Jesus, stumbling under the weight of his cross, walking slowly and painfully down this road. The blood from his lashing is still flowing from his back as the crowds press in on him, jeering him as he walks. If you're familiar with the stations of the cross, I'm happy to report that I've now seen all the original stations (the last of which are contained within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher).
Instead of writing my own experience, I'd encourage you to see what you gain from going down the stations on the real Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem:
And here are the photos I took:
Part way down the road, I realized how fortunate I am to live during this anomalous moment in history. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and whoever else cares to walk the streets of old Jerusalem all coexist in this one tiny place. Even three months before I got there, that wasn't the case.
If I had it my way, the entire city of Jerusalem would be preserved as a museum. But I'm glad I don't have it my way. Jesus walked down a real street with real people. All the souvenir shops helped me understand that even though Jesus' feet make the ground holy in my mind, when he actually walked that street, most people probably didn't care.
There was the group who wanted him dead. There was the group of his followers. But there was also the t-shirt (or maybe tunic?) salesman, and the jewelry store, and the lady selling bread, and the textile shop, and so many more who really didn't care. Even though the most important event in history happened before their eyes, life went on. The implications of the naked, wounded, crucified carpenter walking down their street didn't really make waves until much later, on the feast day of Pentecost at the earliest.
It really goes to show that you never know.
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