That being said, traveling in Bethlehem is certainly not for the faint of heart and there were plenty of crowds and tourists in Bethlehem to make for an exciting experience.
[At the Church of the Nativity. None of us were really sure what was going on at this point, tbh. We had had a mishap and couldn't bring our car with us into Bethlehem, so someone else had to drive us around once we got into Bethlehem. Everything worked out; it was just a bit crazy.]
[I think this is a traditional spot of the manger.]
[I just really liked this mosaic.]
Bethany was a lot calmer, and going to Lazarus's Tomb was really special for me. I love the story of Lazarus (including how this story is used in Crime and Punishment). I will need to do an entire blog post about why I love the story of Lazarus, but for right now I'll just say that I love the apparent hopelessness of the situation--and that Christ can take people and events and things that seem hopeless and dead and restore them to life. I love that "whatever Jesus touches, lives." And I love the tender pity and love He shows for His friends. That He weeps with them when they are sorrowing. Even though Christ knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead, He still mourned with Mary, Martha, and the others, because they were hurting. I love the image and the reality of the God who weeps.
We also went to a lot of female pilgrimage sites that day, including the church which marks where Mary met Elisabeth when they were both pregnant, and Rachel's Tomb.
[The Magnificat in many different languages]
[This church was stunning. I loved all the women depicted in the paintings]
[I thought this one in particular was lovely. I loved the references to the divine feminine]
[The divine feminine looking over human history]
[So many beautiful paintings]
Rachel's Tomb was particularly moving to me. It's a site where, traditionally, women come to pray for family-related desires: a husband, infertility, help with children, etc. But it's also a place where you can just come and cry. When I walked in there, I really did feel such an overwhelming sense of faith. You can sometimes just feel hopes and prayers; they were tangible at Rachel's Tomb.
And yes, we both cried a bit at Rachel's Tomb and offered prayers with the other women there. Because sometimes you just need to weep and pray in solidarity with your sisters across cultures and generations.