Darkness on the Via Dolorosa
It is an unusually bright day. The glowing rays of sunlight feel like a warm blanket enveloping me as I walk the labyrinthine paths toward the marketplace. The dreamy blue sky brings back childhood thoughts of protection under “God’s big blue tent”.I stroll past the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and soon hear sounds of chatter wafting in the wind…merchants and shoppers haggling out their deals. The jingling sound of silver coins in my black leather bag reminds me of the task at hand.
Walking past the Damascus Gate, the sights, sounds, and smells of the market encapture me. It is a vibrant place to be. There is a constant stir of bodies along the covered arched stone passageways. Squatting merchants tell of their unique wares and produce. Every color of the rainbow can be found here! How I loved to accompany mother or father on their excursions here as a child. But today, for the first time, I was allowed to come to the marketplace alone to buy the family’s supplies. Only the necessities of course, though it was delightful to behold beautiful silk fabrics and colorful woven carpets.
Strolling along the paving stone floors of the market,I gathered apples, dates, varied vegetables, tea, flour, and honey for my favorite sweet cakes mother made for us, as well as oil for our lamps. The smells of exotic spices were tempting and a few extra coins allowed me to purchase cinnamon too.
With my shopping complete, I settled against a limestone column to savor a hot cup of tea with a few nuts and dates, before the walk back home. In the distance, the gold Dome of the Rock glistened in the resplendent sunlight. It has been a wonderful day.
Suddenly the sun’s light went out! Such a stange occurrence in the middle of day! The sounds of shouting reverberated against the ancient roofing and the sense of panic was thick in the air. I stood up but felt unable to move. The boisterous crowds swarmed in the blackness of night.
How would I find my way home ? For I have no lamp with me to illumine such blackness. I must find the path home, O God, even under this “big black tent”. Surely You will guide my steps. At home, the evening feast is awaiting!
“But at midnight there was a shout…” Mathew 25:6 (Amplified Bible)
My eyes open abruptly in response to the intense shouting that seemed to come from the heavens, jarring me from deep sleep and a strange dream of blackened skies over Jerusalem.
Could it be? Grabbing my lamp and a flask of oil, I walk out into the darkness of the Via Dolorosa.
From Mathew 25 (Amplified Bible)
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” 25:1
“…the wise took flasks of oil also along with their lamps.” 25:4
“…the bridegroom came and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast and the door was shut.” 25:10
“Watch therefore for you know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come.” 25:13
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