Although in tradition the cave (far underground, and you never see the cave itself) is supposed to be the gate of paradise, it struck me more as the gateway to hell, with God's people not even able to share a site which should bring out the best of them. God must have infinite patience. I think I would want to sweep the whole mess down into the cave, cover it up and start over!
My cynical attitude was somewhat improved by the next stop at Bethany at the tomb of Lazarus. It has stronger archeological credentials (although we never actually got to the traditional tomb) and it has a kind of garden setting in the midst of the squalor of the surrounding city. I again thought of the comparison with visiting some of the poorer parts of Mexico, with lots of unemployed young men and trash and ruined buildings everywhere.
Our guide gave us a moving meditation about Jesus and his presence with our loved ones who are sick, and we prayed for all the faithful departed in the hope of the resurrection.
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