Today I decided to go to the Mount of Olives. I took the train and then an Arab bus to get there. The bus driver was very nice, since I was confused about the bus number. They have put a 2 in in front of the number that I'm used to. I went to the usual places that tourists go. It's kind of strange because you start with the Ascension Chapel. I was going to have mass at Bethpage, the place where Jesus got on the donkey for the Palm Sunday procession into Jerusalem. This is place that is forgotten. It's difficult to get there with a bus. I forgot how steep the hill is going down and coming back up. No wonder Jesus had a ride. But after visiting the church, I went to the rear where there is a beautiful garden to have Mass. Guess what, the garden has become a parking lot.
Since there were not any other quiet places on my route, I thought I might just join a group at another church. So after the climb back up the hill, I went to the "Our Father Church". This a is the place where Jesus spent his nights when in Jerusalem. He never spent the night there until he was put into prison. Upon entering, I noticed a new map of the site hanging on a wall. It showed an overlook. So I thought this might have a possibility. I went to the cave where Jesus stayed and prayed the Our Father, mid morning prayer and offered up some intentions. Then I went to the new section. It was beautiful. A path winding through a forest of olive trees. Although it's called the Mount of Olives, there are very few olive trees that you can see. Kept walking and lo and behold at the very rear was an altar. Since I knew tour guides would never bring their groups back here, this would be perfect. It was amazing. Offering mass on the Mount of Olives in the middle of a grove of olive trees overlooking Jerusalem. The sun was out (of course it was), a cooling breeze, and the scent of flowers. After the gospel, I kept thinking of a Christmas song from grade school, "Winds through the Olive Trees". Then I heard the drums and the flutes leading a teenage boy up the ramp to the Western Wall of the Temple for his Bar Mitzvah. With all the clapping and the singing. All at once I heard a call to prayer in the distance for the Muslims. And then Catholic Church bells ringing. I'm sure that it happens all the time, but it was unique to me. It was so inspiring. Why can't all these religions get along, coexist together, praying to the same God. Especially in this country, where the Jewish faith is split into so many sects with their own rabbi. Hopefully that day will come. You see so many signs saying, "pray for the peace in Jerusalem". But I think that there needs to be religious peace and unity before physical peace ever happens. Being here for a few days, it seems to be along way off. Let's hope not.