Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Wonder of Holy Architecture

As I approached the building, my heart beat faster. I had rarely been so excited before. We got off the bus and gathered up some of our luggage. We walked through the main gate and up the front walk. The entryway was flanked by two fountains. We stepped inside the lobby and nodded to the security guard behind a small glass window.

We emerge from the security foyer into a cavernous hallway. I’m breathless. I throw my head back and slowly spin around. “Do I really get to live here?” The sense of wonder is almost overwhelming.

A dozen trips up and down the stairs carrying luggage for our sisters. I’m tired. I go into my room and then out onto the balcony. I look out and see one of the most famous and politically charged monuments in the world, the Dome of the Rock. This is my home for the semester.

On a Sabbath day, we sit in the chapel auditorium. Congregants look over the head of the branch president through the massive windows. They see, with some good probability, the very site of the crucifixion of the Savior. They partake of the sacrament. The ancient and modern intermix before their eyes.

The exterior of the edifice is awe inspiring. The scores of arches in radiant white limestone fit perfectly into the ambiance of the city. I am grateful for wonderful architecture that inspires and lifts my heart. I am grateful for this gift the Church has given to this ancient and holy city. I am grateful that the city was able to accept the gift. I cherish the memory of my semester at the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. I hope students are able to return someday.

[Note: Other photos of the Jerusalem Center are available here.]


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