In one day, we visited three places holy in each of the Abrahamic faiths.We started out at the Western Wall, the most holy location in all of Judaism, where it was bar mitzvah day. Women and men are not allowed to worship together, so it is a very plaintive sight indeed, to see mothers standing on chairs peering over the partition to watch their sons make their bat mitzvah and become men.

We then went up to the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, the third most holy place for Muslims after Mecca and Medina. Although non-Muslims are not allowed inside the Dome of the Rock, we can wander the peaceful 35-acre plaza and stand in awe of the beauty of the tile work on the Haram al-Sherif. The intricate design of the tiles is to draw your attention heavenward.

In the afternoon we went to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the place were the church commemorates the birth of Jesus. It was very crowded with pilgrims from all over the world pressing upon one another. We waited for over an hour to be able to squeeze ourselves down into the small grotto where people kneel and pray to touch the spot where Jesus was born.

It is ironic to me that my time at the Jewish and Islamic holy sites felt more holy than the holy place of my own tradition.

When I travelled to the Holy Land for the first time two years ago, Pierce wrote me a beautiful prayer that includes the phrase, Defend her from the distraction of cynicism. I find I need it again.