Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Leaving Jerusalem: 10 March 2010

I've got a couple of other posts to write about this trip, including the one about yesterday. But tonight, what's really on my mind is leaving Jerusalem.

I have fallen in love with this city. There's something about the air and the energy here that captures my attention. I've learned how to stare down drivers when I want to cross the street. I helped a new arrival to the city get oriented with her map yesterday. Baloney, pita bread, olives, cucumbers and tomatoes seem like normal breakfast.

And now, it's time to leave. Don't get me wrong: I miss friends and family like crazy. I'm ready to be back at St. Barnabas. But my heart aches to leave this city and I am already plotting my return.

Today, Anne, David and I ventured to the Armenian Quarter of the Old City (where I had yet to go). We enjoyed a lovely lunch of Armenian food (not dissimilar from what we've eaten in other places: hummous, eggplant salad, Armenian yogurt, Kibbuh, and a great chicken dish). Then, Anne and I took the rampart walk (a walkway around the top of the wall which encloses the Old City and gives you a rooftop view out over the city - the three of us did it for the first time yesterday) to return to the College. We walked beyond our departure gate, to the end of the walk - which took us nearly 2/3 of the way around the city.

As we walked, I realized that the rampart walk was a fitting way to say goodbye to the Old City. As we walked and talked (and walked and climbed stairs, and walked.....), I looked out over Jerusalem, trying to memorize what I was seeing. I have photos galore (I think over 800), but I didn't take my camera today; I want to carry some of these images in my heart and mind.

This will be my last post from Jerusalem. We depart from Tel Aviv quite early in the morning, and arriving in Washington around 6PM (local time). I am so thankful for this trip, which has changed me in so many ways.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday 8 March 2010: The Way of the Cross and The Church of the Resurrection

I woke up early this morning, well before the alarm. And that says something, as the alarm was to have gone off at 5:20. Our instructions were to be ready to leave the College at 5:55AM and to keep silence. Our mission: to walk The Way of the Cross.

The Way of the Cross, or the Stations of the Cross, traces Jesus journey from his arrest to his death on the cross. Walking the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem is a whole different experience from walking it in a church, using pictures on the wall (which is how I've done it for my whole life).

We used the book A Walk in Jerusalem: Stations of the Cross by John L. Peterson. It's a progressive and intercessory version of this ancient service. I am grateful that we've been given the copies we used, as I will use this version again in the future, when leading the stations.

It will come as no surprise to learn that I found praying the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem to be a moving experience. It was early in the morning, so the streets weren't bustling. We were asked to keep silence, so it really was prayerful. The intercessions were powerful. But, in the end, what brought tears to my eyes, repeatedly, was watching my fellow pilgrims. We come in all ages and sizes. We have a range of physical abilities. And, having now walked the actual way of the cross, I get why Jesus fell three times. The roads are difficult and it's a climb. The tenacity of my companions was moving. And in a number of cases, those who volunteered to carry the cross were those who already bear significant burdens. As I watched each one take up the cross, I cried.

We ended at the Church of the Resurrection (from its Greek name Anastaseos), also known as The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (no longer its preferred name, this is what the Crusaders called it). Based on gospel information, scholars believe that Calvary (or Golgotha, the Place of the Skulls) and the tomb were actually in close proximity. Within the Church of the Resurrection, you can find Calvary, the anointing stone where Jesus' body was prepared for burial, and the empty tomb.

Church of the Resurrection is another place where there is so much bustle and so many pilgrims, that it can be a bit overwhelming. [Also, because of something called the status quo, the custody of the church is shared by Greek Orthodox (who hold the largest share), Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics (called the Latins, here), Armenian Apostolic, Coptic Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and Ethiopian Orthodox churches, with a Muslim family acting as keyholder. As you can imagine there is always a great deal happening liturgically, and sometimes different things are competing!]

We entered the church, and went down to the regular tombs. Then, we queued to touch the rock of Calvary. I was most moved by the anointing stone where Jesus' body was taken from the cross and prepared for burial. To this day, people come and pour oils on it, and so it is redolent with the scent of perfume. After I knelt to touch it, my hands came away smelling sweet. I carried that scent with me for hours. Finally, we entered the empty tomb. In the spot where I knelt, grooves have been worn in the stone by the hands of centuries of pilgrims, kneeling as I have, in this empty tomb.

There are several places around the church where pilgrims of old scratched crosses into the stone walls to mark their pilgrimages. I traced several crosses with my thumb as I passed, to add my own cross to the walls, to take my place among centuries of pilgrims to this holy place.

When we finished there, we were on our own. A friend has a Palestinian friend who cooked a few of us a remarkable lunch in a communal bake oven. We ate chicken baked with onions and potatoes and a beef/lamb mix baked with tomatoes, eggplant, and red peppers, all scooped up with pita bread.

Before heading back to College, Anne and I shopped. I've come to appreciate the scarf here - having worn one virtually non-stop in all kinds of weather. Scarves, or pashmina, can be shawls, or scarves, or merely decorative. I now have a collection, as well as beautiful piece of jewelry. Oh, and I "accidently" bought the most glorious icon of the Virgin and Child. It was not on my agenda or my list. But, she literally jumped off the shelf into my arms and I could not resist her. I then learned that the original hangs in in the Virgin's tomb in Gethsemane, where I have been (though I did not see her there). She will enrich my prayers when I return home.

Sideways view of the Church of the Resurrection entrance.

Pilgrim crosses, scratched into the walls. I am there, now, too.

Pilgrims waiting to touch the rock at Calvary.

Dome over the empty tomb (with a bit of the enclosure around the empty tomb on the bottom right).

A view of some of the iconography around the church. Additionally, you can see more of the structure which houses the empty tomb on the right.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dheisheia Refugee Camp

Today, we visited the Dheisheia Refugee Camp, on the West Bank, bordering Bethlehem. It was a very moving and challenging experience. I'll write more about the trip tomorrow, as it's late. But, I wanted to share photos.

Just a bit of background: The Dheisheia Refugee Camp came into being in 1948, after the state of Israel was created, to hold temporarily, those Palestinians who were displaced from their homes. It was expected to be temporary, only a couple of days or a week. The third generation of children are now being born in Dheisheia.

Dheisheia is 1 KM square, and 12,000 people live there (that's more than we have in Berlin, NH!).

When that many people live in such a small place, you can only build up. Check out how the levels are stacked. Also, buildings may only be built out of cement block so that the Israelis can bulldoze if they need to. I wonder how much weight the bottom levels can hold. There's no park space in Dheisheia, the kids play in the crowded streets.

Here's a close up of a building, so that you can see the construction.

There's very little open space. Life happens on the roofs. We could hear kids playing football (soccer) there, too.

Graffiti and art were everywhere. The text on this one says, "Stop the wall." The wall referred to is the wall that rings all of the Palestinian lands. You can't leave without passing through a checkpoint.

This garage art shows how the state of Palestine has shrunk over time.

Dheisheia is so close to Jerusalem; you can see it off in the distance in this photo. And yet, for the people who live here, it might as well be the moon. They have no documents. They can't leave the West Bank. They have no homes. For many, they have very little hope.

Saturday 6 March 2010: An Excursion

Today, we went on an optional field trip to Masada, Qumran, and the Dead Sea.

Masada is a venerated site for Israelis. It marks the spot where several hundred people stood down the Roman invaders for several years, before being overtaken, during the revolt of 70CE. What actually happened on Masada is unknown. The old story is that the rebels all committed suicide, rather than being taken by the Romans. Recent archaeological evidence suggests otherwise.

Masada is important for Israelis. Anne and I wandered into a tour being offered by an Israeli guide. After he finished, Anne and I both went off and grabbed our journals and wrote down what we had heard.

He said that Masada and Yad Vashem (the Holocaust museum) were two touchstones that formed the Israeli psyche. In both cases, outside powers told the Jews that they would kill them and the Jews did not believe them; then the Jews were killed. In Masada, they were forced to kill themselves; in the Holocaust they were exterminated.

He said that all Israeli children are brought to both Masada and Yad Vashem, so that they can know the stories and understand what will never be tolerated again. The guide said that his parents were Holocaust survivors and of their whole family, they were the only ones to get out. "I have no cousins," he said.

"So, now, when people say they want to kill us, we believe them. So, when Ahmadinejad says that he wants to attack us with a nuclear weapon we believe him. From now on, we will strike first. People think the Israelis are jerks, but really, we don't care. We will never be in this weak position again." He went on to tell the group (who must have been from the US) that Israel is the first line of defense (which is true) and that if Ahmadinejad gets through Israel, he will go to Europe and then to "you guys."

His words were a helpful window for me into the Israeli psyche. Is there a single Israeli psyche? Probably not, actually, but his words represent one of them.
Some of the ruins at Masada.

Qumran is the site where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. There are ongoing archaelogical excavations at the remains of the village there.
This is the cave where that Bedoin boy found the first jars that unleashed all of the work in this area.

Finally, we went to the Dead Sea. It was shockingly warm (30C, about 80F), so I got to swim. Or, as my friend Ben says, I bobbed. I think I'm the tiny ant in the middle of the photo. In fact, I never float, I'm one of those folks who sinks like a stone. So, floating was a great joy to me.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Friday 5 March 2010

Our morning was spent on the Mount of Olives.

We began at the Church of Dominus Flavit. (I have to say that, as far as church names go, I really like Dominus Flavit, it's just fun to say!) The site is not fun. It marks the spot where Jesus sat and wept over Jerusalem, in Matthew 23:37: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! The church itself is shaped like a teardrop, and the window behind the altar looks out over Jerusalem. My fellow pilgrim Gareth gave a lovely reflection on this space, and you can read it at the Jerusalem Mile project blog here ( I really recommend it).

After hearing Gareth's reflection we were given much time for prayer and photos. I sat on the wall for a long time looking out over Jerusalem. I understood why Jesus wept. This beautiful city is so embroiled in conflict. The parties have changed many times in the last 2000 years, but it's still a city at war, still a city that stones its prophets.

First, the church of Dominus Flavit. Next, another sideways view: the window behind the altar. Finally, the view from the Mount of Olives, looking out over Jerusalem.

We walked down the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane. I had a hard time not being seriously crabby there. It was full to overflowing with people. The church was lovely. It's called the Church of the Agony, but most folks refer to it as the Church of All Nations, as donations came from around the world to build it. The gardens were beautiful, but fenced off so that we couldn't actually get to them.

I fretted a bit, and then sat down on a bit of the edge of the wall with a view into the garden. Almost at once, my annoyance abated. I listened to the conversations going on as people walked by my little perch. One man said, "Jesus really was a revolutionary, and as the church has been institutionalized, we've lost that character....." and then he and his companion were out of ear shot. I couldn't even recognize most of the languages, much less understand them. I was struck by the fact that most of us had come here, on pilgrimage, because of the pull of this first century revolutionary. Then, as I continued to look into the garden and pray, I could almost picture Jesus in there, afraid, wondering what would happen, and then betrayed by one of his close friends. Powerful.

First, the Church of All Nations, then my view into the Garden of Gethsemane. Finally, an ancient olive tree, perhaps dating close to the time of Jesus.

After lunch, we visited the Syrian Orthodox Church of St. Mark. This church is on the site believed to be the home of St. Mark, and venerated as the site of the Upper Room. In the Upper Room, Jesus ate his Last Supper with his friends; he washed their feet. In the Upper Room, his disciples hid after his death and resurrection. In the Upper Room, he appeared to them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them with tongues of fire. Holy holy space, it was.

Sr. Justina, one of the caretakers of the church, prayed the Lord's prayer in Aramaic. It was sung in a haunting and beautiful way; I could scarcely breathe. I asked her later, and she told me that all prayer and worship in her church is sung, except when they read from the Acts of the Apostles; she invited me to worship with them on Sunday night, which I will do if we are back from our Sunday adventures in time. Sr. Justina also told us much about her life and faith. She is one of the 1 million people who still speak Aramaic at home and in worship.

We had to go down to get into the Upper Room, Jerusalem has risen in 2000 years, as buildings have been built on top of one another. There, Andrew led us in a mediation about Eucharist, reminding us that the Last Supper was the Passover meal, a meal of Liberation! The passover lamb was sacrificed to mark defeat of slavery in Egypt. We were invited to offer prayers about Eucharist, and there were many lovely ones. Mine: Help us to remember that when we gather at your table, Lord, we are eating a Liberation meal.

First, Sr. Justina. Next, an icon of footwashing at the last supper, and finally, the sanctuary at St. Mark's.

We walked from St. Marks, to the Church of St. Peter Gallicantu. This French Church is on the site of Caiphas' House. Gallicantu means cockcrow, and it marks the spot where Jesus was brought after his arrest, and where Peter denied him three times. There are also caverns under the church that may well have been where Jesus was imprisoned after his arrest. It's one of the places that made the drama of those events more real for me.

The church was lovely, full of art. I impressed my friends by translating the French that ringed the cross on the ceiling (and myself, too, in actual fact!).

Next to the church are a set of first century steps that lead up the Kidron Valley from the Mount of Olives. Jesus would have walked those steps as he moved from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane as a free man, and then back up the steps, after his arrest.
First, St. Peter Gallicantu, next, the cross from the ceiling. Finally, the steps leading up through the Kidron valley.

A number of us left the Church of St. Peter and went to the Western wall to observe Shabbat prayers. I really didn't understand much of what I was seeing. No one person led what was happening. Men gathered in small groups (families? minions? I really don't know) and prayed either alone or together. Groups broke into song; a few danced. There was added tension to the event. Earlier on Friday, violence broke out on the Temple Mount: 15 Israeli soldiers were injured and two Palestinians were shot. All around the Old City, and at the wall, were lots of soldiers with assault rifles and other weapons.
We couldn't take pictures at the Western Wall after Sabbat started, but we were able to take photos of the preparations.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thursday 4 March

I'm still a day behind, because I had so much catching up to do from Galilee.

Today was a very full day - with much to see and to experience. Several times, I was moved to tears.

We began our day on the spot known as the Temple Mount. It was the site of the first Temple, built by King Solomon and then destroyed by the Babylonians. It was rebuilt in a much smaller form after the return from exile. Herod gave it a serious upgrade during his rule, in an attempt to win the favour of the Israelites, without much success. It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, during the Jewish Revolt.

Today, the Temple Mount is home to the Dome of the Rock and to Al Aqsa Mosque, the third most significant mosque in Islam. As I walked in this space, that has been sacred to Jews and Muslims alike (and, frankly, to Christians, as Jesus spent much time in the Temple), I just kept thinking that God must weep to see the divisions among God's people. I prayed for peace to the God of Many Names.

First, the Dome of the Rock, next, a place for purification before prayer, and finally, Al Aqsa Mosque.
One of the gates leading to the Temple Mount is the Golden Gate or the Mercy Gate. This gate is closed, because Jews believe that only the Messiah can open the Mercy Gate. It is facing the Mount of Olives. If you look carefully in the picture below, you can see many graves of devout Jews on the Mount of Olives, because they want to be there when the Messiah comes.

Next, we journeyed to the Pools of Bethesda and St. Anne's Church, which is located there. The pools are one of the places that we know with certainty that Jesus was. In John's gospel, Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath at the Pools of Bethesda. While there, we had a meditation on Jesus as healer, and then Lois our chaplain offered us a laying on of hands and anointing for healing. I cried as I waited for the prayers, and then, uncharacteristically, not during them. However, as soon as they were over, I sat quietly and wept for about fifteen minutes. It was a rich time for me for prayer, contemplation, and writing.
Here's the North Pool at Bethesda (and the little corner where I sat and wept) and a sideways view of the front of St. Anne's Church, where I lit candles, as has been my custom.

After lunch, traveled to the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. I walked to the wall (on the women's side, of course), and offered prayers - prayers I'd been asked to pray there, and prayers for those I love.

I watched there young women, Israeli soldiers, who went ahead of me to the wall. They were young and beautiful. They laughed and joked along the way down, and posed for pictures, just like we did. In fact, I took one picture of the three of them, so that they could all be in the photo. When it was time to pray, they got very serious, and at least one wiped tears from her eyes as she walked away. Some folks walk away from the wall backwards, because they believe that God lives here, perpetually, and you should never turn your back on God.

Here's the Wailing Wall, sideways. Men's section (large and spacious) on the left, women's (small and crowded) on the right.

Our last stops of the day were at the outside of the Western Wall. There, an archaeological excavation is working on the remains of some of King David's place. Finally, we went to some steps that date from the 1st century and which led to one of the entrances to the Temple. Andrew, our course leader, pointed out that Jesus would have climbed these steps many times. His mother would have brought him up those steps forty days after he was born for her purification. He would have gone up and down many other times, as well.

I cried, as I looked at those steps and imagined all of the times Jesus might have walked them. I spontaneously prayed the Song of Simeon, which Simeon prayed when he encountered the Baby Jesus, at the Purification. Lord, you now have set your servant free, to go in peace as you have promised. For these eyes of mine have seen the Saviour, whom you have prepared for all the world to see. A light to enlighten the nations and the glory of your people, Israel.

Excavations at the Western Wall and first century steps leading up to the Temple.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mount of the Transfiguration and Nazareth (3 March 2010)

This is the last post from when I was away (3 March 2010). And, a note about photos. Something odd has happened in the last 24 hours, and my vertically oriented photos have stopped coming through in the blog with vertical orientation. In some cases, this is limiting which photos I'll post. There is one for today though that I can't resist. You'll just have to cope with a sideways shot.

We began our day at the Mount of the Transfiguration. This mountain was where Jesus retired to pray with Peter, John, and James, before setting his face towards Jerusalem. It's a beautiful high mountain above Galilee. There's a huge church (of course). The day was overcast and cloudy, but as one of my fellow pilgrims reminded us, at the Transfiguration, it wasn't so much about the view! (They were enveloped in a cloud during the Transfiguration.)

While on the Mount, we celebrated Eucharist together. Abbott, one of my fellow pilgrims, offered a lovely mediation on Transfiguration. Quoting Peter, she talked about how good it is to be here, and our temptation to build a booth and stay. Stay in Galilee or stay in the Holy Land. But, really, we must set our faces towards Jerusalem, and then towards home. However, we are all being transfigured by this pilgrimage. So, the question was, How? How is the pilgrimage transfiguring and transforming us?

I feel as though the Transfiguration is being made incarnate in this experience. I am being broken open by it.
First, a bit of the Church of the Transfiguration and then a cloudy view.

Next, we journeyed to Nazareth, where we saw two sites dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. First, the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Gabriel. There are two traditions regarding Gabriel's Annunciation to Mary that God has chosen her to bear our Lord (or, as the Greek Orthodox would say, to become the Theotokos, the God-Bearer). One is that Mary was at home, the other was that she was at a well. So, the art in the church depicted Mary in both settings. There were Annunciation icons everywhere.

"Mary's well" ran through the church. After seeing the site of the well, with Living Water (running water) I was able to fill a cup with water from the well and soak my hands in it. I lit more candles and offered more prayers, and took lots of photos of the icons and the art. The church is being restored; my memory of this church will forever be mixed with the smells of turpentine, paint, and solvent.

First, the external shot of the church. And next, a photo I could not leave out. There were two subtle metal engravings that some folks missed in the midst of all the bling of the icons and the gold plate. This one is clearly the Annunciation. In the other (less clear in what it depicts), the faces had been removed and many small scraps of paper, clearly prayers, had been jammed in. The final shot shows an expanse of iconography.

After lunch, we repaired to the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation. This is a very modern church, completed within the last 10 years, or so. Before entering the church, another pilgrim, Megan offered a reflection on the Annunciation. Her words were so helpful to me. She offered us three possibilities for contemplation (with the encouragement to choose one).

First, messengers from God always say not to be afraid - but often fear is warranted. And sometimes we are afraid for good reason, and sometimes our fears are not rational. We might use this time to tell God about our fears, both the totally irrational ones and the completely logical and reasonable ones. Second, we might thank Mary. We are here, essentially, because Mary said yes. Finally, Megan pointed out that this story does not start with Mary, but with God. Mary was not quietly praying for the Messiah when Gabriel came. Nor was she in any way the center of the story. God chose her. So, we might note where our salvation has come from, and Thank God for the work that God is doing in us. They were powerful suggestions and my meditations on them were quite fruitful.

Despite growing up Roman Catholic, I don't have a tradition of venerating Mary. But, as I walked around the site after Megan's meditation, and saw all of the art from around the world honoring Mary, I was moved to offer her thanks. I also thought alot about fear. I've got a fair amount of it these days, for a variety of reasons. Some of it rational and justified, and some just plain crazy old fear. In that church, I gave it all over to God, at least for a little while.

Many different things are happening in this church. We could see the site of Mary's house (by tradition). In the upper part of the building is the functioning church for the Roman Catholic community at the Basilica.
The Basilica of the Annunciation, followed by one of many many mosaics (and other art) depicting the Virgin and child, from countries around the world. What I loved about this one (so could not resist, even though it's ALSO sideways) is that she is in native Thai costume. Finally, the detail of the dome from the inside. Amazing architecture.

From Nazareth, we returned to Jerusalem. It's about a two hour drive on the coach (bus, we've got lots of Brits here!). I slept some, and scribbled notes as we got some lectures. And, I saw again the problem of settlements. Particularly as you near Jerusalem, there are Jewish settlements that are huge. They are fenced off, and there have roads which go directly into the city (new and uncrowded) that only settlers can use. The Palestinian areas are fenced off (though it was pointed out to us that the fences were lovely and decorated with coloured bricks).

I have no idea what a reasonable solution to this problem is, but I find the present lived out realities of it heartbreaking.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Around the Galilean Sea (Tuesday 2 March 2010)

This is the second of the posts covering the time I was away from the laptop. On Tuesday, we visited areas around the Sea of Galilee.

Today was a very reflective and contemplative day. It began at the Mount of the Beatitudes. A church is located there. (Because there is a church on every holy site in the Holy Land!) We reflected a bit on the beatitudes and what they mean in a world where God is King and God's reign has come on earth. Andrew (our trip leader) challenged us to mediate on one beatitude in the 30 minutes of quiet time given to us there. I found it a good and challenging exercise. Good to focus on one (Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted). Challenging because it was hard to find a quiet place, as there were pilgrims and tourists everywhere. When I stopped being crabby, I found that I could enjoy the mix of languages and cultures I heard all around me, and relax into the space as it was, not as I wished it were.

Here is a distance shot of the Church of the Beatitudes.

We moved from there to the Church of the Primacy of Peter. This church marks the spot of Peter's confession of Jesus as the Messiah. We celebrated the Eucharist there, hearing the story from Luke's gospel about the call of the first disciples, who were fishing in the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5:1-11). Craig, our preacher (a fellow pilgrim from the Diocese of Central NY) invited us to be courageous in answering God's call. Later, I saw this on a plaque on the church: The deeds and miracles of Jesus are not actions of the past. Jesus is waiting for those who are still prepared to take risks at His word because they trust his power utterly. It seemed fitting, given Craig's words to us.

Immediately after the Eucharist, we went down to the Sea and renewed our baptismal vows as we stood in the water. [I'd originally thought we would do this in the Jordan, but the Jordan River is now a military zone and off limits.] It was incredibly powerful. I love our baptismal service in The Episcopal Church, and the promises often make me weep. It was overwhelming and moving to do it right there in that water. This experience may well be the high point of the trip for me. Afterwards, we went into the church, where we could kneel and touch the rock that symbolizes Peter's Primacy (you are Peter, the Rock, and on you I will build my church).

Here are Anne and I after we renewed our baptismal vows. I'm holding the bowl of water and the frond that was used to sprinkle us. The other photo is the Church of the Primacy of Peter. You can see the big rock; the altar sits on it.

We ended the morning at Capernum (spelled a number of different ways here!). The sign at the site refers to it as "Jesus' Village." He came to live here with Peter and his family after being run out of Nazareth after "the synagogue incident." It was incredibly powerful to look over those places and know that Jesus had walked there. In fact, this was another place, like the Judean desert, that really moved me, because I knew that Jesus' feet had walked in these places.
This photos shows the archaeological dig at Capernum, and looks back towards the Church there, which is built over the site of the ruins of Peter's home.

From Capernum, we went to lunch at a restaurant that serves St. Peter's Fish. These whole fish come from the Sea of Galilee and have been caught there since before the time of Jesus.

This is Anne's lunch, ready to go!

We ended our day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee on a fishing boat that is a replica of one that they hauled out of the Sea several years ago. Here's one sailing near the one we are on:
We read the story of Jesus calming the storms on the Sea as we sailed. I couldn't quite believe that I was on a boat, in that place.

Today has been the fullest day we've had so far, with so many things to see and experience. The good news, however, was that we took it easy. In each place, we had time for quiet and for reflection. I never felt rushed (though I often wished for more time, which is a different thing). I'll be forever grateful that my first trip to the Holy Land was on a pilgrimage, rather than a tour. We are intentionally making time for worship together every day. In fact, we've had eucharist almost every day. So while at the end of each day I am tired - I'm not exhausted, which is a different thing. And, I am feeling refreshed and renewed but what I am seeing, hearing, tasting, experiencing.