I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
‭Psalms‬ ‭16‬:‭8‬ NLT

Today was our free day in the city of Jerusalem. My dear friend Luke and I spent the day together. Sometimes we were with others from the tour group, and sometimes we were on our own. We shopped, ate and laughed our way through the Old City. Here are a few highlights.

We started the day dropping in on St. Andrew’s Scots Memorial Church with Regan and Geoff. Geoff introduced us at reception and we were told that the minister was present and would love to meet us. So we spent some time having a visit with their recently called minister, the Rev. Páraic Réamonn. He originates from Ireland, but spent a couple of decades in Switzerland before coming to Jerusalem. After a lovely chat, we headed upstairs to have a look at the sanctuary. Pictures were taken in the pulpit and among the pews.

By the time we left, we were significantly late to meet my folks’ and their good friends the Browns at the Jaffa Gate. So we walked there as fast as we possibly could. Once we arrived, we couldn’t see my parents anywhere. Geoff and Regan went one direction to try to find them and Luke and I went another.

While I was looking around on the street, a gentleman came up to me and said, “You are Canadian, yes? You are looking for your people? Four people? You are supposed to have others with you.” I was a little taken aback and I said, “um, yes, how did you know?” He said, “Your mother, she is this way. She showed me your picture.” (I was asking myself, “Is this even happening right now?!”) He continued, “You find your friends, then I show you where your mother is. First, you look at my father’s shop. It doesn’t cost you to look.” So sure enough, I found Luke and explained what was going on, we went into the gentleman’s shop, and then he brought us along to where my parents and the Browns were browsing in Vic’s Armenian Pottery shop.

We spent a couple of hours browsing and shopping with the folks’. Then we split up again. Luke and I wandered, got totally lost (Mom had taken the excellent map Geoff gave us), got caught up in a tide of muslim’s heading home from worship at the Dome of the Rock, and left the Old City through the Damascus Gate. We walked outside the Old City until we arrived at the New Gate. This put us in the Christian Quarter. We shopped for a bit there, too.

After deciding we were tired, we headed back to our hotel. In order to reach the Dan Boutique, we had to walk through the renovated train station (which is now a restaurants and shopping area). Who should we bump into while we were there? My parents and the Browns, of course. We sat and enjoyed lemonade while chatting about our experiences during the day.

In some ways today was the opposite of what most of the tour has been. Today was not focussed on the spiritual. At the same time, in Jerusalem, the spiritual is never far away. The day started with a visit to a church, the place we ate lunch at was beside the 5th station of the cross on the Via Dolorosa, the Muslims thronged the Old City streets as they returned from their worship.

That’s the way it should be – even as we go about “ordinary life” the extraordinary love of God should always be right beside beside us. May it be in your life, as I find it to be in Jerusalem – the presence of God, close enough to touch.

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Geoff and I with the Rev. Páraic Réamonn, minister of St. Andrew’s, Jerusalem.

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Standing in the sanctuary of St. Andrew’s, Jerusalem.

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Luke, Rosemarie Brown and Norm Brown, enjoying refreshments in the Old City.

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Dad, Mom and Norm, trying to figure out where we were in the Old City. That’s the excellent map that Mom never did give back to Luke and I.

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