Journey to the Holy Land – Day 25

November 17, 2010

When I was on pilgrimage last November I remember the day we spent in the Old City of Jerusalem.  After rising at the crack of dawn to walk the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) and visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, we had free time for the rest of day.  The sights and sounds of the tourists mixing with the local people in the various sections of the old city—Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Armenian—was intoxicating.  Sometimes in life, if we are really lucky, we have the opportunity to have an experience that we passed up at an earlier time.

I remember watching as a few of my fellow pilgrims stopped to watch a vendor who was making fresh squeezed pomegranate juice right before our very eyes.   They purchased this healthy fruit delight but I passed it up.  I regretted that decision and so added indulging in this culinary delight to my bucket list.

Today on my lunch time walk on Manger Street I stopped dead in my tracks as I saw a familiar sign that I could not believe—STARBUCKS!  Hot chai tea latte with fat free milk—here I come!  As I anxiously waited for the rushing taxis, buses and cars to pass by, I continued to stare at the sign and then I saw it.  Although at first glance it seemed to be the familiar green and white logo of the ‘on every street corner’ U.S. coffee house, the name of the establishment was STARS & BUCKS!

I crossed the street anyway just to confirm what I thought my eyes had seen and to my utter delight, there in front of the store was the apparatus to make the fresh squeezed pomegranate juice.  I was about to check this off my bucket list!

I spoke to the nice young man and asked if he could make me that drink.  He said “of course” and asked what size I wanted and if I wanted it mixed with orange juice.  I said “Oh, no.  I want the pure pomegranate juice.”  Then I asked permission to photograph him during the process, and he smiled and granted it.

While he was making the juice, he asked if I was American.  Upon confirmation, he said that the way I speak English is easy to understand (I hope so) and that some people speak such broken English that he has a hard time knowing what they want.  In my opinion, this young adult had a very good command of English and we conversed easily.  It has not been that way with some of the Arabs I have met and understandably so when speaking a second language—or in the case of these amazing people—a third, fourth or even fifth language.  Some natives not only speak Arabic and English but Spanish, German and Hebrew, just a few examples of their desire to be able to communicate in multiple languages. I imagine the people who he encountered whose English he could not understand were also speaking it as a second language.

One of the things that amazed me is the number of the elders at the Senior Center in Birzeit who spoke English because it has only been in the past 10 years or so that English is a required subject in the public schools although I imagine it has been taught in the private schools for a much longer period of time.

After paying 5 shekels, about $1.39, I continued on my walk while enjoying this heavenly drink.

I headed for the shrine of the Milk Grotto which is located on a street behind the Church of the Nativity.  Tradition says that Mary, Joseph and Jesus hid in the caves now located below the shrine when Herod was having all baby boys under the age of two killed in an attempt to eliminate the person he thought was a threat to him as emperor.  Tradition further states that while Mary was nursing the baby Jesus, a drop of her breast milk fell to the floor which turned the walls of the cave to chalky white.

Although I briefly visited the shrine a few weeks ago, I had a definite reason for going there today. Before I left for Palestine, I found out that my friend was being tested for possible breast cancer.  When I called her on Tuesday to get the results of the biopsy, she told me that the test was positive.

During my previous visit to the shrine, I had lighted a candle for my friend and for my cousin who has been fighting ovarian cancer for 10 years.  I also purchased some of the cave powder from the Franciscan Friars who have care and custody of the shrine.  Use of the powder is credited with helping over 1800 women to conceive children.  I read many of the testimonies and saw the pictures of these families that were once barren.  Visitors from all over the world come to the Milk Grotto to pray for Mary’s intercession in helping them to have children.

The Friar also told me today that the powder and prayer for Mary’s intercession has led to nine miraculous cures of various forms of cancer.  Little did I know when I purchased the powder a few weeks ago that it could be used for such an immediate purpose.  I lighted another candle for my friend and will return the next two days to do the same before I return home.

These last few days seem to be speeding by, and I look forward to being home for Thanksgiving.  I have so much to be thankful for.

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Published in: on November 18, 2010 at 2:20 am  Leave a Comment  

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