While there's no wrong time to go to Jerusalem, a moment of trauma -- whether global, national, or personal -- may be the best time of all.
Weather permitting, 30 pilgrims from St. John's Episcopal Church depart tomorrow, LAX-Atlanta-Tel Aviv, and then, on Tuesday afternoon, up to Jerusalem by bus. If the Holy Spirit is at our backs, we should be standing before the Damascus Gate of the Old City by dinnertime, the abundant life of the Muslim Quarter swirling around us. If past experience is any guide, we'll be exhausted -- it will feel like the end of one long day -- and exhilarated at the same time, the way anyone feels coming home after a long journey.
I took the photo above on an earlier pilgrimage, inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where the light seems to embrace the small inner chapel where the church believes that Jesus Christ's body was laid after his crucifixion. Experts' best guess is that his death, burial, and Resurrection all occurred inside of a few hundred square feet. Surely there's no better place -- along with the Western Wall -- to take our prayers for Rep. Giffords and Saturday's other victims, their alleged attacker, ourselves, our families, our church, our country, and all who are in need in our glorious, broken world.
If you like, follow along with us by checking in here every day. Eight nights out of 11, we'll be at the pilgrim guest house at St. George's Cathedral in east Jerusalem, where visitors enjoy the peace of Christ and free in-room wireless.