Tuesday, June the 27th.
Disclaimer: this is my personal experience, I’m not telling anyone to do anything, it’s just my story.
By blood I am of Russian descent (as far as I know, my grandmother said her mom told her that her father (who died at her age of 3) was quite dark skinned and dark haired, as they were in the north or the Asian lands), both of my parents are Russian, so naturally I’m baptized and introduced into the Slavic Christian Orthodox church.
When I was a little girl I used to love going to churches – the smell of frankincense, the quiet, all the decorations, just how the room felt so important, royal and yet within reach to ask for anything and feel a warm fuzzy feeling inside. And the lightness that followed in my body when I walked out of there was wonderful! It was like a recharge!
Of course I only had this feeling when walking into an orthodox one – the catholic were only cool to watch the décor, without much of a stomach flutter (but still a little), and the protestant ones just looked like big fancy living-rooms to me. They still do.
I continued on being quite religious well into my teenage years, always feeling the same when visiting a church or imagining that my prayers were heard and that boy would like me back, or something.
But alongside of that I had also always been interested in the power of nature, witchcraft, Indian spirituality, Hinduism, fortune telling and other sinful practices, which I, Lord forgive me, carefully incorporated into my daily life.
After leaving the Dead Sea early in the morning and getting from the salt itchy weird thick awesome water into the freezing air conditioned bus, I tried to fall asleep.
The road was quite long, but after a while I gave up on sleeping and decided to enjoy the view – Jericho, who’s “walls came tumbling down”, one of the oldest city with walls in the world, over 8000 years!
When we passed the city, a while later there was a sign: “This is Palestinian territory, entering here might be dangerous for Israeli citizens”. Wow. Holy crap.
I looked carefully inside the village, and saw nothing. Not one person. Almost all houses had no windows, the parking lot was full of dusty cars, some of them on top of each other. No trash. No clothes.
No people. Scary…
We entered Jerusalem and got off the bus, immediately went to the market to find some food. After purchasing sabich (Israeli dish in pita bread) and relaxing for a bit, my friend Yonathan pointed the direction I was supposed to go on the tram to get to the old city, and ditched me.
Lovely, that one! It’s like throwing a child into the lake to teach it to swim, and darnit – it works! Hahaha I’ve been getting myself into uncomfortable situations for a couple of years now, and I feel it has really pushed my boundaries, taught me a lot about life and peoplehelped me conquer my fears & insecurities, it feels like I can do anything now!
So after moving by myself to Stockholm at age 16, I don’t remember if I was still religious or not, but at 17 I had for sure let it go. I was into Wicca, rituals, all sorts of nature stuff and since I had basically grown up in the woods I felt a strong connection to this sort of worship. Like I can control my life much more, and all the other nature related stuff that I got into such as divination and herbal remedies, really pushed me forward.
Still I believed this was just another shape of religion, and was connected in some way to my old ways.
While learning to live more and more on my own, travelling countries and seeing that the way I was brought up is not the only option, I lost more and more touch with the church. And Wicca.
Now I’m not sure what I would say I believe in… the power of the Universe, I guess.
ISRAEL FACT – Jerusalem is “home-base” for three major world religions; Christianity, Judaism and Islam. This just shows that we are all One, doesn’t it?
After changing to full leg pants, sleeves and wrapping myself (including the head) in a big scarf, I bravely entered the Old City of Jerusalem. First on some market street, then I decided to get lost.
No matter where I went on the market, I got comments on my looks, no matter how much I covered up. It was both entertaining and a bit annoying.
This is what it looked like, getting lost in the Old City:
I somehow ended up at the Western Wall (or HaKotel in Hebrew). The wall is a remainder of a big BIG Jewish temple that was built around year 19 BC. It is the most holy place Jews are permitted to pray.
According to Jewish tradition, one should write the most sacred wish on a small piece of paper, and put it in a crack in the wall (or some other place on a sacred object).
I went down to the wall, the female side (the wall is separated into left male side and right female side), and looked at the praying women.
Somehow, something that before had been so natural, now baffled me. They are praying to the ruins of a temple, built not my some sacred person but by Herod the Great, Roman kind of Judea.
It is, just a limestone wall, simply. What makes it sacred is only the ideas behind it, and the history. Without the history, who knows if anything special would have occurred? Belief is a powerful thing, powerful enough to give great meaning to a limestone wall.
People whispered, kissed the wall, cried......
But, not my religion, not my place to tell.
Eventually I ended up on Via della Rossa, the road that apparently Jesus walked upon when dragging his cross to be crucified.
Now this is what I want to see! I really wanted to see something Jesus-related while being in Israel!
But walking on this cozy street was just like any other shop road in the Old City. Full of stores, trinkets, souvenirs, and no special feeling about it at all… why would they do this?!
At the end of that road was a HUGE church, an orthodox church built around the place where Jesus died for our sins on the cross. It was first built a small building, and then the church happened sometime after year 800. Inside was the stone plate he laid upon, the hill that was below his cross, and the “mausoleum” they put him in before the stone was rolled out of the way and Christ was find missing.
For one, it confused me that The Lords resting place was so close to his execution spot, perhaps it was not in real life, they just moved the resting place there?
But also… what if these stones were fake? What if somebody mixed them up so many hundred years ago, and this was not the real thing? How can they know, how can they tell?! Again, faith is a powerful thing.
I touched the stone plate the body of Christ rested upon. Nothing. Perhaps a small shiver, but not more than so.
I walked around the entire church, which was beautiful by the way! I explored every corner, and while it was impressive, I didn’t get that feel I used to…
When I was about to leave I heard a Russian tour group that just walked inside – I hurried with them and stood in line to see the inside of a small “house” inside the church. Inside was supposedly a piece of the stone that served as the door for Jesus final resting place, and all the way inside was a marble table, underneath which the real resting place was, safely kept away.
No photos inside.
I went in there.
I knelt in front of the marble table, put my hands together, and my forehead on the cold stone.
I just felt uncomfortable, and a bit sad over the fact that this didn’t make me feel anything. How could it be, was this not one of the most historically and religiously powerful places on earth!?
I was confused to how people could walk out of there weeping, and I was indifferent.
What happened!? Am I the devil now?? How could this be?
Was it my skepticism to whether the stones were real or not, or had I perhaps lost something important and sacred along the way? I mean… it’s just stone… it feels odd to worship something that is so unsure.
Does life have no meaning now?
Will my grandmother understand me?
But perhaps, remembering the peaceful high feeling I had the day before when we were in the Nature reserve, sitting in the creek, among the trees in the desert oasis, letting the water wash away my worries and fears…
I had been baptized, perhaps.
I have let go of the old… consciously by accident.
Nature is now my church.
Fully awake, love and light <3
.... and, you know,
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