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In Cammino in Terra Santa – Journeying in the Holy Land

It ‘s been a week since I arrived in Bethlehem. I have the great privilege of not being haunted by time. The Salesians friends have opened for me their home and their community without conditions, and I think to remain here until after mid-March. Very few people have such a chance in life.

As I have always done when the availability of time allowed me, when coming into a country or a place that are new for me, I did not started running around, trying to see everything. I walk, sit on a bench, watch people go by, listen to the sounds, breath and savour the air. I let the atmosphere or spirit of the place overcome me. In these days I went only once to visit the Nativity cave, that is a short walk from the house of the Salesians, but I spent many hours in the square outside the basilica.

Today I went with a bus in Jerusalem – it takes less than half an hour, as from Riruta to the centre of Nairobi – and toured the narrow streets of old Jerusalem, I had lunch with an freshly mad and amazing pomegranate juice, then I entered the church of the Holy Sepulchre. I did not lined up to enter the empty tomb, because I was bothered by the unfriendly and rude monks . I sat on the wooden bench a few meters away of the entrance of the tomb, and for two hours I watched people from all over the world who came on pilgrimage to the empty tomb.

It is really a privilege not to be in a hurry. The privilege of those who feel they have arrived even if they still have to cover a few meters, because they can come back at leisure, because after all, the important thing is not to be in that exact place or to touch that exact stone, as in a magic ritual, but to be enveloped by the mystery of which the place is memory. Many of the visitors appeared to be tourists more then pilgrims, entering the empty tomb after ten or twenty minutes in line, busy checking that the battery and flash of the phone or camera were charged, not to lose the propitious moment for a photo in the few seconds they were allowed to stay in the tomb. Too many seem to be worried to take home a souvenir, rather than to be present, to live that moment and perhaps allow the presence of the real Life to overcome them. Difficult to think that they were living a profound spiritual experience. But you never know, God has His ways.

The empty tomb. Since the first women disciples, and then Peter and John, went in and they came out scared, shocked, with a first glimmer of understanding and faith, that empty tomb is a sign challenging our scepticism as well as our hope. It gives meaning to the whole life of Jesus, from the birth in Bethlehem to the crucifixion. Because that emptiness recalls the fullness of life that Jesus lived and donated to us. You see him again on the hill explaining where to find happiness, you hear again his demanding voice speaking of justice and fraternity, you listen again to his words freeing you from the anxiety of power and wealth, you imagine to see his smile showing tenderness towards all. That strange sign, the empty tomb, gives meaning to my life. It is a spur to go back out there and look for Him, because he is not here in this empty tomb, but it is not even only in temples and churches, because the day has come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, because the time has come when the sacrifices pleasing to the Lord are as the one of the Samaritan, pouring oil and wine on the wounds of those lost by the wayside.

3 Comments

  1. Esther Kabugi says:

    Very inspiring article to help us reflect on living for the moment. Indeed in today’s world we are always in a hurry; in an endless rush in search for happiness, money and anything that would make our lives better. How great it would be if each of us were not “haunted by time”.

  2. Beppe says:

    Grazie Kizi,
    per un attimo mi è sembrato di essere lì sulla panca, seduto accanto a te.
    Buon cammino nella terra del Risorto!

  3. Albert Mori says:

    What an inspiring piece this is. I wish I were there to experience it. It brings me to realize the detriments of my fast-paced life that has so wrongly become synonymous with success in my part of the world.

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