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New Year Day, a Day of XS. Today is 01/01/10 in Jerusalem

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I was not looking forward to the trek to the top of Mt. Olives, but there is a more direct way from the convent and so I am trying that: once again to see the Greek Orthodox Church and the church in the Hospital, Augusta Victoria.

Packed in my pocket are some XS stickers… just in case.

I get to Agusta Victoria in only 20 minutes – this is a much better route, a straight shot up the hill from the Sisters Bridgettine convent.

It is closed today? What???? I leave a bit discouraged.

Barbara and Nils made it inside the Greek Orthodox Church yesterday and said the icons were stunning, so I feel good about seeing it today.

I pass a man washing his taxi cab in the driveway at the gate to the Greek Orthodox Church, walk through the small door in the metal gate into to the property of Olive trees and head down the long driveway to where the church sits. I test all the doors. All the doors are locked. I walk out the front gate a bit confused and the man washing his taxi tells me they are closed for New Years day holiday.

Bad trip planning on my part? Yes, yes, okay, a phone call might have been of use before I left – but then the exercise up the hill was good and now I am at the top of the Mount of Olives, with XS stickers in my pocket…

So… a note, no animals were harmed and no sticker was left behind in making the pictures for the following gallery (user discretion advised, this was just for fun – XS is an energy drink with 0 carbs and 0 sugar, caffeine = to a cup of coffee and chock full of B12 and other B vitamins…. [Shameless plug for D.Vandeveen & company] LOL – actually, I like the product a lot – though it is out of my price range for regular drinking, the homeless artist that I am now – it is a worthy product). In Jerusalem, XL is the big energy drink, followed by Blue, and Red Bull. I think XS could be number 1 if they ever marketed commercially.

XS ‘stickering’ various places, I make my way to Gethsemane.

The highlight is  Sulamaan from Jordan and his donkey, Doctor Peter – I give him 20 shekels for the shots and he kisses my head and hugs me and blesses me… it makes my day!

I am down the hill and stop in at All Nations Church to hear a mass in English, and the priest speaking about “the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak”– and I am stunned for that was in my prayer last night!!

I stay for the mass, when the priest reflects in his homily that when he was a boy, he saw a painting of Jesus praying on a rock in the Garden of Gethsemane and that image NEVER left him… and now, here he is a priest, and he is giving a mass at that very spot…[he chokes up with emotion]… the very spot; the rock where Jesus’ sweat was like blood, and his prayer so fervent that the cup might pass from His hand, but not His will, but His Father’s will be done.

Again, another example of the power of visual art in consecrated space, to inspire and leave impressions where words alone can not.

I move on toward the Sister’s guesthouse and I am thinking, how cool was all this timing? So much for beating myself up for bad planning and just going with the wind…. A bag, blowing in the wind…(reference in reflection, to an earlier post).

I look to my left – the door to St. Stephan’s is open for the first time on this trip (for me) and so I dart across the street and into the little orthodox church for a couple of quick snaps.

At the Sisters’, I edit photos and write until 3pm. I leave for the Old City at 3 with only one camera, one lens, and a pack of XS gear and three cans of XS to play a little more as I walk to Ha-Kotel to pray at the Wall, and then to meet up with Rabbi Shmuli for Shabbos dinner – I was invited to have dinner at his Father in law’s, Rabbi Moshe Slaus.

On the way in I find people are quick to embrace their photos with the XS can… too bad I can not leave them with any!

Here is gallery two – I feel a sacrilegious at times, but again, no animals were hurt, no sticker left behind, viewer discretion advised – no meaning to offend (in fact, I used the same sticker at every location – sorry XS, can’t pollute….tacked it on just for effect and to take the photo, then slipped it back onto the backing – in some of these shots, you can see why – but the folks on the XS Facebook will never know [unless they read my Daily, Log], and who knows who reads this anyway…)

Make it to the Wall, and put on Tefillin, say the Shema, and pray a while.

I am led to Rabbi Slaus’s Shabbos dinner by Yahooda, who isn’t staying, just helping me find the house, and kindly touch Rabbi Moshe’s wife’s shoulder when I shake her hand in greeting (which was a mistake I later find, as one of the guys there points out, you do not touch an orthodox woman especially the wife of a rabbi).

I am seated up front near the Rabbi. His teaching through out the night, has me transfixed – his words are revelatory about life, about God and life, about people, about meanings of words, Hebrew explanations of meanings, the ways of things, etc…..it all makes so much sense. The couple hours here tonight turn out to be deeper than any Christian sermon I have sat through or heard. I cannot repeat because the teaching was so dense and in the moment, it is too much to upload and instead will remain within me to come out when it is right and useful for reflection and action.

At the end of the evening, my mind numb, I leave to return again next Tuesday, invited to drive with Rabbi Moshe to a class by another Rabbi whom Rabbi Moshe Slaus says is expert in everything and speaks from his heart…that he (Moshe Slaus) never misses a teaching when this other Rabbi teaches… I am looking forward to that. Rabbi Slaus is also a painter, and a photographer (originally from N.Y.) and photographs several hours a day at the Wall having photographed some 90,000 images.

I walk back to the Sister’s quite elevated and inspired (a chief goal as a human, to be and to act, is as an inspiration to others where others are, according to one of the teachings tonight, and Rabbi Slaus was that, as I leave inspired by his teaching).

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