It was Saturday morning after Good Friday in Jerusalem. I was determined to see the sunrise over the Old City. My friends doubted my ability to get up for a headstart on the day.
But, under the notion that this would likely be my only opportunity to see this site, I woke up, put on an extra jacket to stave off the morning chill, and hiked around the Old City walls to the Mount of Olives. The walk up to the top was much more intense than I had planned, but I arrived to a deserted lookout, above all the tombs, on time to see the morning sun reflect off of the stone buildings and the brilliant Dome of the Rock.
I anticipated being part of a tour bus crowd that morning, reflecting on the Easter and Passover weekend activities, but only one other person turned out to the extraordinary scene. I couldn't help but feel that all the rest of Jerusalem missed out on the tremendous morning light.
On the return, I cut through the Old City and visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There was a service going on while I wandered through the outer reaches of the building and ducked under the altar that marked the place of Christ's crucifixion. The Gregorian chant echoed through the entire structure and made the church seem holier than when I had visited the day before with crowds, police, and fenced areas in the church.
Outside the city gate, I purchased a glass of fresh squeezed pomegranate juice before reaching the hotel just in time to meet my friends for breakfast!