It’s a quiet Saturday morning. I’m freshly showered, sipping coffee, relaxing on my living room couch while reading comments that have been left on photos I uploaded to my Facebook page yesterday.
I’m not even halfway done with that project.
I was going to share a “few” representative pictures for interested friends and family members, and I’ve already posted 65, which takes us through day four of my ten-day pilgrimage through Israel, walking “in the steps of Jesus.”
I was concerned that I would run out of paper in the little journal that I chose to take on the trip. How could I have known how little time I would have to write, or rather, how little energy I would have once the time was made available? It was an action-packed week and a half, traveling from site to site, trying to keep track of the significance of each place.
On June 18, our first full day of touring, our 31-person group (32, if you include our tour guide, David) visited Caesaria, the port city along the Mediterranean Sea built by Herod the Great, and the place from which Paul set out on his missionary journeys. And one of the places where Paul was imprisoned.
The next day, we were standing above the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus likely preached his Sermon on the Mount, blessing the poor in spirit and the meek and the merciful and the pure of heart and the persecuted.
On June 22, we drove through the West Bank, the Judean Wilderness. We ate lunch near the caves of Qumran, above the western shores of the Dead Sea, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered nearly 60 years ago. And we paused on the western shores of the Jordan River, at the site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.
On June 26, just a few hours before we headed to the airport in Tel Aviv to return to Pittsburgh, we stood on the Mount of Olives, looking across the Kidron Valley to the Dome of the Rock, the Temple Mount, on the eastern edge of the Old City of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives is the place where Jesus’ resurrected body ascended into Heaven. It is also the place where he is prophesied to return again one day.
The exercise of sorting through and choosing which photos to upload has been unexpectedly prayerful. I want those looking at them to see more than just palm trees and water and sand and ruins. I want them to understand their significance.
And this reminds me of their significance.
It helps me realize that this trip was not a dream, that just a few days ago, I really was walking through the land where Jesus was born, where he preached and healed and ministered to so many, where he was brutally murdered, and where he rose from the dead.
I will never read the Scriptures in the same way again.