We got through Holy Week unscathed. We are all in great health and waiting for this coronavirus to be lifted. There was no news from Israel, nothing from the Via Dolorosa either. After our fish dinner on Good Friday Mike and I watched The Passion of the Christ. What a beautiful reminder of how much He loves us! I caught part of a radio broadcast with Monica Miller, the author of The Theology Of The Passion of Christ. I found it interesting that the character who played the part of Satan appeared to be asexual. Monica Miller stated in her interview that Satan’s sexuality was “blurred.” This gave me a deeper understanding of the inherent evil in society’s current confusion about human sexuality. Mel Gibson did a beautiful depiction of this historical event, he but also paid the price for bringing this project to fruition. Satan hates this movie.
When I first traveled to the Holy Land it was mostly a spiritual sight-seeing trip, but as the years passed it became a refueling of my spirituality. I can not wait to get back and revisit my favorite churches. I’d grown accustomed to the smells and sounds of the Holy Land. The entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher always makes my heart beat at a faster rate.
The Holy Land
I first portrayed the Blessed Mother on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem in April 2007. I cannot recall how many times I have visited Israel, but it could exceed 20 years. And even if I could visit it today, the Holy Land, like the rest of the world, is now on lockdown.
My first trip to Israel was in the mid-90’s. This was one of the longest trips I have ever taken. Twenty-one days in total and covering most of the holy sites, was the adventure of a lifetime. After spending fourteen days in the Holy Land we traveled to Italy.
Preparing for any trip is costly, especially when you don’t have a real job. I had to depend on Mike and, as usual, he came through by paying for the trip and all the hotel accommodations. That left me with all the other expenses. I had two part-time jobs; one paid around $60 a month “yes, I said a month!” But the Lord blessed me for keeping that job for 12 years. I worked as a Bible study teacher in the public schools; it was an honorable job that helped me pay my way to the Holy Land each year. I was also a private tutor, which paid much better. Through the travels I always brought back souvenirs for the students and shared rich stories with them about visiting where Jesus once walked. To many of these students, this was the only place that they were being catechized. Some students were attending church on a regular basis, but for others the small traveling chapel was their only church. I prayed that God would used me in a powerful way to open their minds to lead them in the right direction. I had the students once a week for one hour. To them I was Miss Lynda, but, to me they were small stepping stones, drawing me closer to God. Believe it or not, the money from these jobs was always put aside for my Holy Land trips. I was also blessed to have several dear friends who faithfully contributed to my missionary work in Israel. As this became my ministry, the Lord always provided the means.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Located a few steps from the entrance of the church is the Stone of Unction. This is where the body of Christ was placed after the Crucifixion. I’d rush to claim a spot to place the petitions and pray for those who requested prayer. The only manner of praying at this site is on your knees. From there I’d walk upstairs to Calvary and, if the line was not too long, pilgrims can touch the spot where Jesus was crucified. Climbing back down the stairs, we made our way to the tomb of Jesus. Sometimes it was open and the lines were tolerable; at other times it was almost impossible to get through. On the back side of the tomb is another small cumbersome area, shrouded with deep reddish-black velvet drapes. There is room for one person to kneel and pray for a few seconds before being ushered out by the Greek Orthodox priest. I could spend an entire day at this church, finding little nooks to pray. It is by far one of the most enriching churches in the world. During Holy Week the crowds were impossible to get through. Many of the pilgrims do not realize that the church opens as early as 6:00 a.m. My friend Pat and I once visited the church that early. It was magnificent to have the church almost to ourselves, so we prayed and left the petitions at the Tomb of Jesus.
Union with God
Since we in Southern California are on the same latitude as Israel, our weather is similar. The winds kicked up at night in Jerusalem and make a different type of howling sound, a lot more blustery, bringing in fine dirt through the old windows of the hotel where we stayed. My allergies are always on high alert in the Holy Land because of this. The Muslim call to prayer is always heard throughout the city; it’s a loud-sounding reminder to let us know that we are in Jerusalem. We share the Holy Land with Jews and Muslims. The Jews in the Holy Land are gracious in allowing us to share their holy sites. If you follow the rules of the guardians of these holy sites, there is always peace. During Passover, if you visit the Western Wall, no one is allowed to take photographs. Sometimes when tourists take pictures, kind Jewish women ask you to stop. I love the Western Wall/Wailing Wall; this is the only original wall that was around in the time of Christ. As Christians we feel the special anointing of God, and we share with the Jews in experiencing a spiritual joy.
Staying At Home
While this pandemic keeps us hostage, we do our best to stay safe. My schedule is in disarray. I go to bed later than usual and get up around 8:30 a.m. instead of my normal 5:30 a.m. It seems to me that even when I go to bed later than usual, my sleep is disturbed with unrest. Nothing in our lives is normal. I’ve reached another level of understanding and am no longer so consumed with getting the virus. I just want this to be over. We’re still hunkering down, but it’s different and becoming less of a threat. Mike cooks every night; I can’t believe that I have my own private chef. Our meals are truly crafted with rich flavors and seasoned with love.
Dear Lord, How much longer? Tell us what we need to do to change the direction of this virus. Please give us a sign that this will soon be over. You are a merciful God, and we are all Your suffering children. Help us to come out of this whole and with a better understanding that only You can change the world. What can we do but pray, and faithfully wait for Your healing? Amen.