Tatum Swize is a sophomore in Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University, with a double minor in History and Geology. She is involved with the Catholic Center on campus. She is pictured at left in the Golan Heights. Standing in the middle of a sea of people before the Western Wall and feeling the beating of the heart of Judaism, or bundled up behind my scarf at the Dome on the Rock surrounded by centuries of religious history, I felt for just a few hours that I was a part of a different religion. In the various Jewish and Muslim sites that we visited, I momentarily became immersed in cultures and belief systems that were completely new to me as a Christian. I loved being able to sense in my friends an eagerness to share with me all that their religions had to offer, making my experience so much fuller and my understanding more complete. Similarly, as we walked through the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City, following the Via Dolorosa on our way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, I found myself paying just as much attention to the reactions of the rest of the group as I did to the Christian holy sites. I have always found religions to be such beautiful insights into the hearts of different cultures; I see them as snapshots of the minds of the people who compose them. So it was especially powerful to me that day to be able to sit through a Catholic Mass in a language that few of us could understand, and then explore the massive Church that is home to the rocks upon which Jesus was crucified, the spot where Christians believe the tomb of Jesus was located, and countless more equally powerful sites. In hindsight, I can see that the lack of verbal understanding throughout the Spanish Mass was not important. What was most crucial, whether at the Western Wall, the Dome on the Rock, or in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, was the feeling reverberating through every person there. These feelings spoke of years of sadness and joy, of the tales of individuals who worshipped in these places, of histories so full and powerful that I could not help but revel in the love. For me, the most beautiful part of being in Israel was learning about the ideals and beliefs that makes each religion unique, while feeling the undeniable aura of love that ties them all together.
The Bus 1 crew at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre