PALM SUNDAY PILGRIMAGE TO ARIZONA CALVARY HILL II, AND BEYOND

Bell Pass Panorama 4-13-14

PALM SUNDAY PILGRIMAGE TO ARIZONA CALVARY HILL II, AND BEYOND TO BELL PASS

Overall, it took 4-hour sbike-hike-bike pilgrimage on a clear day in 87F temps to climb up to 3,200 ft elevation of Bell Pass. The wind was very strong, especially at the Pass, nestled between the two McDowell Mountain peaks. Thus some of the background in these shots will appear hazy.  It is not pollution.  It is the fine desert sand rising up in the air. 

Here’s a quick preview of some of the still shots from this pilgrimage…

IMG_1421 Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 6.43.57 PM

Calvary Hill 2 4-13-14 Bell Pass-2 4-13-14 Bell Pass-1 4-13-14

Despite the tough conditions and a steep and rocky trail, I was determined to reach at least the height of the Calvary Hill Arizona II (about 2550 ft – leftmost shot above). After about an hour and a half, I reached that point. I stopped and did a quick ceremony. I also shot a short video (see below).

PALM SUNDAY PILGRIMAGE TO ARIZONA CALVARY HILL II – a 52-second video clip by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – unedited – filmed on Bell Pass trail in McDowell Mtns above Scottsdale, Arizona

From that vantage point, climbing another 700 ft straight up the mountain looked pretty foreboding. I was not sure if I would make it all the way up to the Bell Pass, elevation 3220 ft. So I asked for help from my Spirit guides. In the past, they have always helped overcome physical difficulties in order to reach a spiritual goal.

“One step at a time,” I kept saying out loud as I grunted and groaned my way up the rocky trail. “It is not a race.  With God’s help, you will make it.”

Honoring an old friend, a Greek Orthodox monk

Right after I had set off from the Calvary Hill stopover, I heard a beep from my iPhone. It was a voice message from a dear old friend, a IMG_1266Greek Orthodox monk.  He  helped me on my path of enlightenment over two decades ago well before I was even aware that I was on a path of enlightenment.

This wonderful monk, originally from New York, had been a young and promising Catholic priest in the 1970s. So the archbishop sent him to the Vatican for grooming and development.

Alas, things did not turn out the way the archbishop had hoped. The young priest was an idealist. Incorruptible.  He was abhorred by what he saw at the Vatican. So after a few years there, he defrocked himself and returned to his native New York.

He wandered the streets of New York for a few years, totally disillusioned after his Vatican experience. He devoted himself to earthly experiences, got a commercial pilot license and started to fly Boeing 737s. Eventually, he became so proficient in it that he was made an instructor training other commercial pilots.

And then he met a Greek Orthodox monk in New York. Little by little, he returned to God. He was eventually ordained as a Greek Orthodox priest and given a small parish in Phoenix, Arizona. That’s how we first met about a quarter of a century ago. At the time, he would even take some of his parishioners in his airplane, and do an Easter Sunrise service high up in the air.

Fr Bessarion-AnthonyAs I listened to his voice message today during my Palm Sunday pilgrimage, my heart was aching. My friend had just gotten out of the hospital. He has not been well for a number of years. But this was the first time I have heard his voice to be so weak, so frail.  Leaving that voice message for me was evidently a great physical effort for him. And yet he wanted to us to meet for lunch.

There is not going to be a luncheon, at least not any time soon. If I can manage to visit him without getting him unduly excited, I will do so next week. Meanwhile, I dedicated the rest of my climb, the steepest and the toughest part to Bell Pass, to my old friend, the monk who never quit despite physical pain and hardships.

And neither did I, climbing in his honor. Step-by-step, by putting one foot in front of the other, I made it eventually to Bell Pass which looked so foreboding from Calvary Hill II. Here’s a video I made at the top…

PALM SUNDAY PILGRIMAGE TO BELL PASS – a film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – Apr 13, 2014 – Calvary Hill II on Bell Pass trail in McDowell Mtns above Scottsdale, Arizona

And now, here are the rest of the still shots from this pilgrimage…

IMG_1412   Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 5.31.52 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 5.31.47 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 5.31.24 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 5.31.09 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 5.27.30 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 5.27.54 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 6.43.31 PM IMG_1428

 

 

 

 

 

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