The sky was clear — remarkably clear — and the twinkling of all the stars seemed to be but throbs of one body, timed by a common pulse. Far From the Madding Crowd
Yesterday, Easter Sunday, we decided to brave the crowds once again to descend on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem for Easter Sunday mass. Thankfully, I had a friend driving from Ramallah to Jerusalem early in the morning, and so I caught a ride with her and got to the Damascus Gate early. I walked with a friend into the Old City for a cup of coffee before meeting another friend at the Gate around 9:30. There didn’t seem to be that many people in the old City when we were just sitting around, which was a pleasant surprise.
And actually, when we got to the Church a little before 10am, for a 10:30 mass, there was not the huge crowd that we were expecting! We walked right in, and around to the tomb of Jesus, where the Catholics were creating an alter for the mass. There were these benches that some people were sitting on, but didn’t have any reserved signs, so my friend and I sat down on one, second row! When a priest came over, I was sure he was going to kick us out, but he just handed us a mass booklet. Whew.
Then the bells rang and the organ sang the procession of priests began.
It was beautiful to see! Then, after the priests all filed past us, there was a procession of “important people.” Before the important people reached us, one of the guys in the colored outfit (in the picture above) came over and told us we had to leave our seats. Hm. So where should we go?
So with all the TV cameras and all the tourists eyes on us, we had to leave our seats, and push and squeeze our way past the important people and all the tourists to get out of the way. I hope the TV cameras edited out the two girls who were sitting in the wrong section at the Easter mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and had to push their way out after the service began. Sigh. Awkward.
So we ended up standing for the mass, which was perfectly fine; again there weren’t that many people there so you didn’t feel too crowded or pushed, and I could see the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, though we couldn’t hear anything that he, or the other speakers, were saying, because there were no microphones. Intriguing. But, everyone sang and it was really a beautiful event to be a part of. The Church itself is kind of a tense place – it is ‘shared’ by like 6 denominations, and all the priests of the different denominations are aggressive about their ‘parts’ of the church. So even during the Catholic mass, the Orthodox priests are yelling and moving around behind us. Not the most religiously friendly place.