By Tamar Merjian
Guest Contributor, St. David ACYOA
They say a picture is worth 1000 words and I never truly understood the meaning of that saying until this trip. Our pilgrimage to the Holy Land began on June 9 departing from JFK airport in New York City. Leaving at midnight, all 35 of us were quite anxious to get there, not knowing what to expect. Our 10-day itinerary began Monday morning at the Church of the Nativity where Archbishop Khajag Barsamian celebrated the divine liturgy. From there, we pilgrims embarked on a journey from the Jordan River, to the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem, and the Sea of Galilee. By the end of the week we had reached the Mount of Olives and the Holy Sepulcher, where we met local youth as well as celebrating the divine liturgy at 4 AM.
When we arrived and checked into our hotel Sunday night, Der Mardiros had asked us what we were seeking on our journey and we all for the most part said we were searching for a better understanding of our spirituality and our roots, not actually expecting to find it. As the trip progressed some of us experienced these wow moments sooner than others but personally mine happened the day we went to the Vank. Singing Der Voghormya in Sts. James Cathedral I felt something that I can’t and don’t know how to explain in words, a chill came over me and I began to cry. I realized this was my moment where it all made sense, who we are, the struggles we’ve been through, everything. As the day progressed I continued to feel this intense emotion and when we finally got to the school within the vank I could no longer contain myself. Walking through the halls I could feel the pride that those students posses for being Armenian Christians in the Holy Land. Over all the journey we embarked on, one in which retraced Jesus’ footsteps was an emotional, spiritually uplifting, and eye opening experience that I recommend all to embark on and I am so thankful for the opportunity that was presented to me.
With the recommendation of Very Rev. Fr. Nareg Berberian, Tamar Merjian joined the Diocesan Youth Pilgrimage to Jerusalem last month. Tamar is an active member of St. David Armenian Church. She is involved in the youth group, and a staff member in our Armenian and Sunday School. In September, Tamar will deliver a formal Power Point presentation on her pilgrimage to the Holy Land.