Footsteps of Jesus (supposed)
- Galilee region & the Dead Sea, Israel
Greetings from the Holyland!
We are moving through the Middle East and its
hotter than !@#$%*. Summer
is not exactly the best time to go,
but we are here now.
When we last left off, we were
traveling to the Sea Not exactly the
spiritual retreat we had in mind, but people have lives to live. To escape the rampant commercialization, we
of Galilee to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We
Tiberias, a town on the sea and found a
wonderland of water parks, chi-chi resorts and a bevy of
pilgrims worshipping the sun.
headed for the northern shores to see the many holy
sites. The Sea of
Galilee is actually about 35 miles
around, so the sights are bit too far to walk and almost
impossible by public transport, so we took the next
best option and rented mountain bikes with grand
of biking around the sea.
Heading out in the midst of 100 degree oppressive
heatof the Jesus boat. About ten years ago, the Sea level
should have been the first omen but we
didn't heed it
and began our pilgrimage, heading for the first stop, Kibbutz Ginosaur, home
had fallen during a drought and a wandering fisherman
found the remains of a boat buried in the mud.
excavated and found a completely preserved fishing
boat dated to the time of Jesus, and was used by
fisherman such as St. Paul.
It was great because the
enclosed museum was air conditioned (this will become
a preoccupation with us.)
Our next stop was Capernaum,
the city where Paul lived and the site of the ruins
the synagogue where Jesus preached as a lad. The
of Paul is modern edifice built on stilts over the
remains of Paul's house (said so because they found
some fishing hooks - can we say dubious?)
On to Tagbha, and home to the Church of the
Multiplication of Fish and Loaves.
The church is
around a large boulder that pokes through the floor
and is said to be the actual rock upon which the
miracle of the ... gasp, multiplication of fish and
loaves occurred. Actually,
there is a lot of this in
the Holy Land, all these SUPPOSED sites of things. We
are discovering how very political it all
One segment of the church, to break away, will
advance the theory that hey, here is where something
happened and build a big church on the spot, but as
how accurate anything is, doubtful.
Wait til we get
Next stop, a beautiful little church built off a
rock hanging over the shore. The church,
the Primacy of Peter, is built over a rock known as
the Mensa Christi, the site where the resurrected
Jesus had lunch with his buds and also where Jesus
gave Peter the keys to his church. Now by this time
we are wiped, completely exhausted and
A quick dip in the waters that Jesus walked upon cooled us down
and felt refreshing but did nothing to magically restore our strength.
Our next stop was the Mount of the
Beautitudes, where Jesus gave his famous oratory
Sermon on the Mount. And what a Mount it was. A tall
mountain overlooking the sea with a very STEEP path
Yeah right. We
stood at the base and could not muster up enough strength to go to the
top. In fact, we could not pedal another step and
up by the side of the road. Actually, we hailed a bus
going by. With
the help of a kindly soldier who convinced the bus driver to take our bikes on board,
we rode back in air conditioned shame to our hotel in
Tiberias. And we told everyone what a great ride we
We also visited Nazareth, very close by, which is the
childhood home of Jesus, as well as the location of
Annunciation of Mary. There is a magnificent basilica
there built over a humble rock grotto, where the
Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce the birth of the
baby Jesus. While
wandering around, we lucked upon
an American pilgrimage group having mass in the
Now the modern pilgrimage is an interesting concept.
group of people along with a priest or monk as guide,
ride in air conditioned splendor from one holy site
to the next taking them all in in a holy-filled week.
say mass everyday in different churches, ponder over
various Biblical passages, readings, lessons and even
things like getting baptized again in the River Jordan.
Well, we joined a group saying an English mass. It
squeezed in between a Korean and a Spanish
Pilgrimages to the Holy Land are nothing new.
have been coming since the 3rd century, and they will
keep coming. The
we met up with came from
Northern Indiana/Southside Chicago (small world.)
We do believe that the best way to experience holy
sites is to somehow take part in them, and that mass
felt very special (it's impossible not to get
a bit religious
Gabriel in Spanish tile - Spain
very beautiful aspect of the Church of the Annunciation is the artwork.
Throughout the church and the grounds are works of art from countries
around the world depicting the Mother, Baby Jesus or the Angel Gabriel
with the features and clothing endemic to that country and created from
local material showcasing that country's artistic talent.
and Child in Mosaic - Japan
In Nazareth, we also visited the Greek Orthodox Church of St.
Gabriel. Seeing it reminds us that Christianity is very fragmented and
that here in the Holy Land, no one gets along. If the Christians are not
fighting with the Muslims or the Jews, they are fighting themselves. The
Church is built over the supposed site of a spring where Mary drew water and Gabriel appeared to Mary (Orthodox version)
you can still hear the water rushing from deep below the alter. It's built over the town's ancient water source. Myth vs.
Tiberias, we traveled south to the Dead Sea.
lowest point on earth and about the hottest as well.
Nothing grows in the area due to the high salt
in the water. The
large boulders on the shore of the
Dead Sea are in fact huge calcified salt crystals.
We stopped for a quick dip and found the water to be
an oily, thick unrefreshing salt shake. In fact, the
salt in the water makes you so buoyant, its
to swim or do anything besides float.
And float we
What a sight. All these people floating like logs by
the shore, many people reading a newspaper for the
requisite photo. You could lift your
legs and arms out of the water, and any open wounds or
recently shaved legs burned like acid was being poured on them. If you
didn't know you had any wounds, you did now. The best part was the
warning signs by the shore.
DO NOT DRINK THE WATER. IF YOU
ACCIDENTLY DRINK ANY
WATER, GO IMMEDIATELY TO THE POISON CENTER. DO NOT
GET ANY WATER IN YOUR EYES. IF YOU DO, GO IMMEDIATELY
TO THE EYE WASH AT THE FIRST AID CENTER. DO NOT
SPLASH WATER. DO NOT SWIM. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DUNK
YOUR HEAD BENEATH THE SURFACE.
DO NOT ENTER WITH OPEN WOUNDS, SCRATCHES OR CUTS AND DO NOT SHAVE PRIOR
TO ENTERING THE WATER.
So much for happy fun ball.
ten four good buddies
ann and dougindex | back