|The Sea (Lake) of Galilee|
I'm pretty much over the jet lag but this particular Pilgrimage has been very intense. The experience of being here on this Holy Ground where billions of seekers have placed their feet in the same places as Jesus and his disciples is almost overwhelming at times.
When you begin to understand the physicality and geography, understand some of the politics of the day, and then have some of what you've been carefully taught shown to be incorrect - well, it's all a bit much to take in much less digest.
So, I knew we were going to have an early morning. Up at 5:15 AM, breakfast at 6 AM and out the door to beat the crowds at 7 to head to the Jordan River.
I was exhausted, but I had taken a hot shower, washed and dried my hair, got into my warm jammies, and, as I got into bed, I thought, "Oh, this is going to be The Best Night's Sleep in the history of Best Night's Sleep."
And, it was.
It was 2:43. AM.
That is NOT "in the morning." That would be more aptly described as "in the middle of the night."
I was stunned. I checked my watch, my phone, and my computer.
It was 2:44. AM.
I turned off the lights and absolutely WILLED myself to go back to sleep.
I'll tell you what: 5:15 AM came awful quick and awful early.
|The banks of the River Jordan|
We started off at a small, isolated area of the banks of the Jordan River where we all stood on the bank of the river and listened to the gospel story of the baptism of Jesus.
We then renewed our own baptismal vows.
One of our leaders then went down to the water and soaked a bundle of olive branches and "asperged" us real good.
I and another woman is who is a clergy colleague then were privileged to anoint the foreheads of those who cared to come forward. I used the same words God used after Jesus was baptized.
Making the sign of the cross with oil, I said, "You are God's child. You are beloved of God. With you, God is well pleased."
And then, one of our clergy leaders did the same to me.
I can't even begin to describe the experience except to tell you the facts of what happened. And, to tell you that there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that God was in that place.
|One of the houses in Capernaum, near Peter's house|
And, it's probably so that Joseph was not a carpenter but primarily a stonemason.
And, when Jesus went to the home of Peter, scripture says he "ran from the synagogue to meet him.
For some reason, I always imagined that he ran, not just out ot immediacy, but because it was a long way away and he had to hustle.
Well, really, the synagogue is probably about 1/2, maybe 3/4 of a city block from Peter's house.
Which was made of stone, oh, by the way.
We were then on our way to the Mount of Beatitudes, where we read and meditated on the Beatitudes.
It was there, in the chapel, where a group of Orthodox Christians suddenly broke out into song, singing a hymn that one of them told me later was about the Beatitudes.
|Chapel of Loaves and Fishes|
We also made our way to the Primacy of St. Peter's church there by the Sea of Galilee.
Which isn't a sea, you see.
It's really a lake. It's about 15 miles by about another 5 or 6 miles. So now, I'm going to have to start calling it The Lake of Galilee.
Or, maybe I won't.
Scholars have known for centuries that it's not the Sea of Galilee but rather, a lake. So, I can just chill.
We ended the day on a boat ride on that Sea of Galilee, which was pretty amazing. The boat was a replica of the boats of that day, which was cool.
What was even more of a delight is that we got out to the middle of the water and the captain turned off the motor. We then read and meditated on the Gospel story of the storm coming up and the disciples were terrified and Jesus calmed the seas and walked on water.
There is something pretty amazing about being in the actual place where the ancient story took place and taking in the scenery as well as taking in the story on an even deeper level.
I don't think I'll ever be able to read or hear those stories again without remembering the images I saw today.
This is a very, very different pilgrimage than the Camino but it is every bit as powerful and, in many ways, equally strenuous.
|Replica of ancient boat on Sea of Galilee|
I'm half expecting Siri to send a message asking, "Everything okay, hon?"
We're almost halfway through this pilgrimage. Tomorrow, we're off to Sepphoris/Zippori, the Golan Heights and Caesarea Philippi.
It's expected to rain all day, which is wonderful for this area which has been so dry for so long, it has threatened wildlife and the fish in the sea and the lives of the people who live and work here.
It will be our last night in Nazareth before returning to Jerusalem.
As exhausted as I am, I am all the more grateful for this experience.
Thanks so much for coming with me.