Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

25. October 2010

I think it was on the 4th day of our trip to Israel it hit me. We were on a peaceful boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. The jet lag was finally gone and I found myself overwhelmed by emotion. I really was in the Holy Land.

We’d arrive in Tel Aviv three days earlier. Since then, we’d visited Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. There we saw the church of the Annunciation, where it’s believed the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. We continued to Mt. Carmel. That’s where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal.

The next day, we traveled to Capernaum… the town used as a base by Jesus during his ministry… then to the ancient city of Jericho and the mountain on which Jesus was tempted. We even made a stop in Caesarea Philippi where Peter’s faith was challenged by Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?”

The following day… staring out at the Sea of Galilee, the Bible came alive! The people and places I’d read about since childhood Sunday school were real! I could almost see Jesus walking across the gentle waves. Christians like me believe the Sea of Galilee was host to many of Jesus’ miracles and teachings.

But the Holy Land isn’t just “holy” to Christians. In our stunning tour of Jerusalem, we visited Islam’s third holiest site, the Dome of the Rock. We entered the Old City and strolled the Jewish Quarter, then humbly submitted our prayers at the Western “Wailing” Wall.

It was a-once-in-a-lifetime adventure made even more special because Tom and I got to share the experience with our couple’s Bible study group. I’ll never forget the scene as we all donned white robes, stepped into the Jordan River one at a time and renewed our baptismal vows.

Our couple’s group has been meeting for more than 18 years. Together we’ve shared our joys and sorrows… lessons from the Bible, and lots of great food!

That “togetherness” continued in Israel as we shared communion at the Garden Tomb… enjoyed a swim (it’s actually more of a “float!”) in the Dead Sea and bargained for olive wood and jewelry in the bazaars of the Old City.

We dined on phenomenal food and laughed till we cried. (especially when Max ordered a ham and cheese omelet in the kosher King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Our server took it in stride. “I could do that sir,” he said, “but I’d have to close down the hotel!”)

An amazing journey that took us through centuries of history… the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the remains of Solomon’s glorious temple and the wilderness where David hid from Saul. All “real” places forever etched in our minds.

But this region of the world also has a history of sadness and pain… violence and death. As the fighting continued along the West Bank, together we prayed that God would finally bring peace to a place, and to a people who have endured so much. May it be so.

Shalom.


Carol and husband, Tom, on the Sea of Galilee

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.