The Holy Land is both familiar and alien. Large hedges of lavender and lemon trees are surprisingly fabulous, but they are not strange. But street signs filled with Arabic and Hebrew letters feel very foreign. The sounds and smells and colors of the Old City of Jerusalem are hard to take in. It is a little overwhelming.
The pilgrims from St. Martin’s Williamsburg have mostly adjusted to the seven-hour time difference, and we had a full day on Tuesday to do what we liked. Some of us slept in, some shopped, some explored the Old City.
The strangeness of the city was mitigated this evening by the opening Eucharist of our course at St. George’s College. Familiar Easter hymns, familiar liturgy, and the fellowship of other pilgrims have launched us on our pilgrimage.
Tonight‘s preacher spoke of the benefit of slowing the pace to enable prayerful attention to one’s surroundings and one’s companions. He cited a Japanese theologian named Kosuke Koyama, who wrote a book called “Three Mile an Hour God”. Koyama says “Love has its speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed. It goes on in the depth of life at three miles per hour. It is the speed we walk and therefore the speed the love of God walks.”
We look forward to slowing down and walking with Jesus and with each other in the next several days.