2 - Dispatch From the Pilgrims

It is Easter at the airport. At least some think so. This year, one church has moved it up to the earliest date in 95 years. Thus it avoids other rites that are scheduled by the competition - like Mohammed's birthday and Passover and Purim, (a Hebrew word referring to the dice originally rolled to determine the date of the holiday).

So this Easter fits nicely with the secular global warming trend of shorter winters, earlier nesting of birds - and presumable those bunnies laying colored eggs - keeping the Druids and other fertility lovers happy too. Yet St. Patrick's Day had to be moved up a week, as Irish whiskey and green beer are not deemed proper during holy week. There is another church's Easter next month, after a human date that ironically always remains constant - April Fools Day.

When planning a trip to the "Holy Land" the dates of these holidays are important, as pilgrims fill planes and hotels - and borders, buses and business close. Jean and I are pilgrims, but of a different sort.

My mother's father, I called him "Granddad", was entering Jerusalem 90 years ago this very week. He was an Australian soldier astride a horse - another of a very long list of those who came as conquerors - and one of a very short list that did not fight here for the sake of religion - merely colonial greed and glory. When he arrived in March of 1918, it had been raining constantly, "the horses shivered" and "the camels … were fumbling and slipping." Yesterday Jerusalem hit 91 degrees and the pilgrims perspired.

After several years of research, we are making a pilgrimage in his footsteps. What better excuse to travel? One history book says of these Aussies, "They rode with the purpose of old soldiers, but still with the sharp expectancy of happy travelers venturing into a famous land touched with mystery and hallowed by religion, history, and tradition, all the more or less familiar to them since their childhood."

That fits us to a tee.

- Saddled up Stew

PS For homework, watch the re-mastered DVD of Lawrence of Arabia. We go there soon.