As Jerusalem flew by, I kept thinking about our reenactment in Gethsemane. We wanted to film the famous moment when Jesus prayed under the olive trees, and I was ready to bite off my nails over it. In any situation, a well-known and emotionally-charged scene like that one would be a challenge. But this time, it was extra nerve-wracking because we’d been to Gethsemane, and it was a tough spot to film.
The trees were far apart, and partly hidden in high grass. The sun made bright spots between the trees, which meant we couldn’t film darker scenes until the evening. And the ground was covered in thorny plants that were painful for kneeling actors. I wasn’t sure where, or how, we’d film the famous scene, but I knew God could help. So, I started to pray. As we laid out the costumes, and puzzled over the schedule, we prayed. And our prayers were answered.
We arrived in Gethsemane with a finely-tuned plan. Oswaldo, our Gimbal operator, went with Carl to film some B-roll in the orchard. Meanwhile, Gary and I set out to find a place for the prayer scene. It wasn’t easy. We walked from one end of the valley to the other, climbed up the stone-walled terraces, and sized up every rock we could find, but nothing was quite right. Then, we found it. It wasn’t a rock at all. It was a tree; a perfect tree, with a giant knot at praying-hand height. There was even a bed of soft, thorn-free straw on the ground where Amir’s knees would rest. A few yellow flowers in the nearby grass formed a lovely frame to complete our image.
We set up the camera, and then, as if on cue, a haze of smoke from a nearby bonfire rose-up and mingled with the clouds to create a perfect screen for the harsh sunlight. The fog brought the dim light of evening an hour before we’d planned. Amir was ready in costume, and he did a beautiful, emotional job with the scene. I will always remember standing there in Gethsemane, looking at that beautiful shot through the bright yellow flowers, and knowing that our prayers had been answered. I knew, then, that the project would be fine. God was keeping an eye on it, and he’d send us what we needed. It was time to stop worrying and just enjoy the ride.