I was in Jerusalem in the late ’50’s, on Good Friday, I remember joining the procession to Calvary – along the Via Dolorosa -with a small group of tourists, nuns and priests. It was a time before mass tourism occurred in this part of the world. I recollect that we stopped at all 6 stations of the cross – where significant events occurred during the progress of climbing the hill to the site of crucifixion – for prayers before we reached the church allegedly built over the ground where crucifixion traditionally took place. I know that we were allowed inside this church of The Holy Sepulchre and that it seemed to be divided into several Christian denominations each with their own special icons or artefacts. I also seem to remember looking into a hole in the Christian part of the church which I believe (I could be quite wrong here) was either meant to be the cave where the body of Jesus lay after the crucifixion or at least representative of it.
Although I am now a confirmed atheist, which readers will have gathered from previous entries, I cannot say what I felt at the time was a religious revelation, although I have always believed, and still do, that Jesus existed as a man but not as the son of God. Nevertheless, I cannot fault his teachings, or indeed the 10 Commandments laid down in the old Testament so, for that reason, I have always claimed to be a Christian, at least abiding by Christian rules.
Having said that I certainly felt at the time,an element of awe, in following the footsteps of those who tramped up the hill to Calvary with Jesus dragging this heavy cross. My abiding memory of this particular occasion was the true sense of history that I felt; the quiet aura of reverends emanating from the whole group of worshippers and, in retrospect, the small number of people that formed the group which followed the priest.
A low day for me. A prisoner in my chair looking through the window at the beautiful summer’s day outside. We could have got out into the garden in my wheelchair but the problem was there was no-one to help get me out of the chair when I returned to the house and I was totally against ‘my lovely’ gong around banging on neighbours doors to help. Anyway, tomorrow, with any luck/, when Smiler’s here, I will get out into the sunshine.