Sunday, October 19, 2008

Holy Sepulchre

After a fine shwarma lunch on a roof terrace, we venture into the Christian quarter and the tourist/pilgrim madness that is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

With equal vigour to that displayed at the Western Wall, followers of a faith closer to my own, come and pour out their emotion at sites that purport to be the site of the cruxifiction and less than a hundred yards away, the tomb that Christ was laid in.

The cynics amongst us might observe that the close proximity of these two sites are a convenience that escaped mention by the authors of the gospel writings, but have been truly capitalised upon by subsequent ecclesiastical parties.

As pilgrims queue to undertake their observances, I can see that for them the ritual is one of pilgramage and devotion and is imbued with meaning that I find hard to grasp. I may not personally understand the outworkings of their faith, but I can respect that for them it is authentic and God-centred.

In the Coptic chapel an Ethiopian monk stands propped on his staff, murmuring the prayers of the devote.

It would be nice to think that at least within any given religion, different factors can work together in harmony, but as the ladder of status quo, stationed forever more on the ledge outside an upper window demonstrates, even here discord is rife and negotiation upon negotiation results in a resentful accommodation of stability.

Exploring away from the Greek officiators barking at the lines of the devote, I find a side chapel, set aside for silent prayer. I take a seat, unsure how to formulate into words the thoughts of my head and the desires of my heart.

I sit and open up my broken attempt at observant offering; less structured, less formulated, less intense, it is all I have.

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