What I most love about this trip so far is the constant offering of prayer, time for reflection, and reminders about why we are here through the sharing of scripture and the history of where we are at the moment.
After another lovely, simple breakfast we headed down the hill to the bus. I said "good morning -- see you later" to the young pomegranate juice vendor -- he smiled broadly and waved to us as we passed by. You can be sure we will be back every day for more juice -- it is delicious!
Today is Saturday -- Shabat -- so traffic is very light heading out. Yesterday traffic into, inside and out of Nazareth was horrible. We have been zipping along to the Sea of Galilee this morning.
The Sea of Galilee, the Sea of Tiberias, Genneret, and now in Hebrew Kinneret --- because it is harp shaped -- these are all names for the Sea of Galilee.
We stopped at the Jordan River to renew our baptismal vows. Along the way Mark stopped by the side of the road and clipped branches from an olive tree to use as the branches to sprinkle us with after we renewed our vows. He fashioned them together by taping the end of the branches together. In the picture below, as we were hearing a prayer Mark is looking towards the River Jordan -- what he is really looking at are the olive branches he put in the water at the rivers edge -- one time he turned away and the olive branches floated downstream and he couldn't get them back! We were lucky this time -- they stayed put for us.
We got back in the bus and headed to the Church of the Beatitudes.
Next we went to one of my favorite places -- the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes. This church was burned by Jewish extremists a few months ago -- I remember my personal trainer Galit talking to me about this months ago. She was appalled, and so was I. You can still smell the "burn" -- while it is boarded off, it hasn't been restored yet. Thankfully the sanctuary didn't burn. The once beautiful gift shop is now housed in trailers outside -- I loved that gift shop!
Here's the salads we were served and our table. We also had delicious hummus, pita bread, and garlic bread.
Heading back to Nazareth it took us over 2 hours to travel what should have been a 40 minute drive because of the traffic.
When we finally we're back in Nazareth we got off the bus and most of us went for fresh squeezed pomegranate juice at the same place we enjoyed it the evening before. What a treat! The young man who helped us the day before (who I saw early this morning as we were heading to the bus) smiled broadly again as we walked up and ordered. As we sat there sipping our freshly squeezed juice we started singing songs and hymns. Beautiful.
We came back to the retreat house, being told we would have to be at breakfast at 6:15 am and ready to go by 7:00 am with bags at the front door by 6:30 am. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow. But first we had a meeting with our small groups before heading down to dinner.
What I enjoy about the small group is sharing what God is inviting us into during this pilgrimage as people feel comfortable. Yesterday we walked the steps of Mary and eluded to the birth of Jesus. Today we focused on the early ministry of Jesus and the two sacraments he gave us: baptism and Eucharist. I can't stop thinking about having these experiences in this place at this time with these people. When we walked in silence down the hill around and below the Church of the Beatitudes it was a powerful time to feel connected to the land, the sun, the Son, life, love and each other. I found myself singing the doxology to myself during my time on the walk -- I'm SO grateful.
After dinner the Mother Superior took us into the archeological dig under the convent. It was said to them when they bought the property that the grave of a Just Man was under one part, and a church and 1st century home of Joseph was under the other part. When we went down there, we could see remnants of a Byzantine church, a wall built by the crusaders, and a first century home and grave. Tradition has it that the church was built over the home, as it was said to have been the home of Joseph where Jesus was raised. Mind you, it is a stone's throw from Mary's home under the Church of the Annunciation!
We walked down and the most impressive point was the tomb of the Just Man where there was a round stone that was rolled away from the front of it.
I offer these pictures of the dig under the house.
The Byzantine chapel:
The house of Joseph -- sister is pointing at the front door.
Grave but not of the Just Man:
The grave of the Just Man:
After the tour we got together and processed what had happened to and in us today. Lots of feelings and love in the room. Growth, rebirth, forgiveness, healing and more.
This was the most awesome of days!
More pictures from the Jordan:
More pictures from Capernaum:
More from the Beatitudes walk and Eucharist:
More pictures from the Primacy of Peter:
More pictures from Tagbha:
More pictures from the water:
Steve and I had a Titanic moment on the boat:
Some pictures from this evening: