I have no idea how long we travelled to get here. Mary Jane said it was something like 30 hours. All I know is, we’re all extremely tired, sore, aching, weak – but happy. We made it to the Holy Land.
Some personally memorable moments:
– I was stopped by Israeli security on the way in from our flight. Apparently, I look like a potential peace worker, so I had to be questioned. Father Valentine looks like an Arab, so he was stopped, too. We both agreed: that guy was scary.
– Our tour guide is a Palestinian Catholic. As we drove from Tel-Aviv to Haifa, we passed through Joffa. As I took in the landscape – Cyprus trees surrounding clusters of homes with that trademark ‘biblical’ architecture – I heard him describe a few events that had taken place in Joffa (referred to as Joppa in Scripture): Jonah’s boat ride to escape God, Simon Peter’s vision of the animals in Acts…
Tears welled in my eyes as I realized that I was finally here. In this ground, Abraham is buried. In these caves, Elijah and his followers heard God whisper. On this dirt, my Savior shed blood out of love for me. In these towns, the apostles spread the Gospel. I’ve only been in the Holy Land for a few hours, and already my faith is so much more real to me. It’s more than a collection of stories now, more than the theories that I have built my life upon – although they certainly meant more to me than these simple analogies convey. But being here makes it real.
I sympathize with St. Thomas even more now. I’m seeing and touching, and it’s leading me to new belief.