Greetings, one and all, from the shores of the Sea of Galilee. After a very long day of travel (well, more than a day), I am here safe and sound, and, after a great dinner and a decent night’s sleep, I am ready for our first day of exploration. It is hard to call it sightseeing and I don’t feel quite holy enough or at the moment theological enough to refer to it as a pilgrimage.
But what I can tell you is that I am here…and true to form, I feel nothing that I expected to feel. As usual, it took some sleep and a little exercise to bring the words to explain what I was feeling yesterday as I arrived. I must admit that I felt none of the excitement that I felt as I arrived in Istanbul or many other places that I have had the great pleasure to visit, places that I had dreamed about for a very long time before I actually arrived. I thought it might have been jet lag or just too many modes of conveyance in too short a time. But over the last year I have learned to sit with the feelings I don’t understand, until they become clear in their own good time.
And so, this morning, as I got up and dashed out to the shores of the Sea of Galilee to get that precious sun rise shot (which I can now see out my window I was not patient enough to wait for), I understood my response to this place – you see, everything here (at least so far), feels simultaneously familiar and new. Not familiar because of the linkages between Israel and the U.S. (because so far the cultural linkages are not that apparent), but familiar because in living a life of faith and study, part of me has always here. I’m pretty sure that I had to wait to come here until I could understand that. And I am so glad to understand it at the beginning of this journey.
So, Pastor Amy, I am happy to report to you that on my early morning walk this morning I not only saw God in the sunrise and in the hundreds of birds and fish that populate these shores, but I saw God in my life and my heart and in everything and everyone around me. And in the sunrise, of course.
For those of you interested in following our itinerary, today we explore the Upper Galilee and the Golan Heights. We begin at the Mount of Beatitudes, then drive up the famous ancient road that has caused so much fighting for this land – the Via Maris, visiting Tel-Hazor and Tel-Dan then Caesarea Philippi and finally ending with some more modern history, visiting sites from Yom Kippur war in 1973.