I was dropped off by the taxi in the dead of night on a deserted street with nothing but walls and two locked gates. Oh, what relief when the gatekeeper came at the sound of my buzzer! He led me in, and to my room, shushing me several times so as not to wake the other sleeping guests with the sounds of my shoes and luggage.
Of all the many many beautiful churches there in Jerusalem, St. George’s was the most beautiful. Both the cathedral and the close. The cathedral is so light and graceful and beautiful it moved me to tears. Many tears of joy and wonder, this week!
The close is white stone and graceful arches and light and windows in the most charming layout imaginable. The flowering vines were all in grand array: bouganvillea in several different colors. Vines with flowers I didn’t recognize: power-blue trumpets dangling from them. Trees laden with limes. Little bushes with ripe pomegranates on them. Olive trees, with olives all over them! The pale green foliage reminds me a little of peach leaf willow.
There is a delightful garden area in the middle of the close. There is a glassed-in walkway surrounding it on about four sides, not at right angles. The walkway approximates the letter ‘C”. The walkways are about seven feet wide, standard porch width. The walkways are panelled with glass to many feet high on the garden side; the rooms of the guest house open to the other side. Large palms and plants live permanently in the walkway, too.
My guest house room was also all stone and arches and light, with a vaulted ceiling, probably 15 – 18 feet high at the top point. Oh so many curves instead of corners here! Just pretty! I tried to take some measurements, in case I ever get to build myself such a room.
There were many other travelers staying at the Guest House there. I met people from England, Scotland, New Zealand, Canada, France, USA. A deacon assigned to the Cathedral was there from Nazareth, as is the Bishop himself.
The Bishop, however, was not there! He had flown to Hawaii for a vacation, the very day I arrived at the Cathedral.
On Sunday morning there are three services: 8 AM, 9:30 AM, 11 AM. The first and last of these two are in English; the 9:30 one is in Arabic. I went to the 8 AM Mass, where the celebrant was a bishop from Africa. Then I went to the 9:30, to listen; I loved how the old-fashioned hymn board, at the front of the church, was stocked with hymn numbers in Arabic. I couldn’t decipher them at all. The people sang with great gusto. There was one man in particular, wearing the red-and-white keffiyah like so many Palestinian men, who belted out the songs the loudest. It was a wonderful sight to see.