There is a lot to see in Jerusalem, but one of the places that struck me most when I went there on pilgrimage was the Kidron Valley. It lies east of the Temple Mount, between the Old City and the Mount of Olives, and it is filled with ancient graves. According to our tour guide, the prophecy that the Messiah would enter the city through the East Gate of the Temple (as Jesus did on Palm Sunday) meant that Jews who could afford it were able to be buried there, the supposed epicenter of the resurrection from the dead.
Today, if you look out from where the East Gate was, almost as far as the eye can see, there is a sea of small, rectangular, above-ground tombs about two feet high and covered with flat stone slabs engraved in Hebrew. I was also told by the tour guide that these tombs are all empty. In fact, most of them had probably been used more than once, because the coverings are not airtight, and the remains of the first deceased inhabitant would have long ago turned to dust and blown away.
This got me thinking, “That’ll be me one day.” Ground to dust and scattered wherever the wind blows. Or decaying in an underground concrete vault, forgotten by all who are still living. Or some similarly grim and anonymous fate.