Sunday, September 15, 2013
A Trip to Israel 2013 by Pat O'Hearn
A trip to Israel...a reflection.
There it was...an ad in the St Rose Sunday bulletin... an Interfaith Trip to Israel.
It beckoned to me again just as it had the year before. What harm would there be to attend a gathering to find out more about this unique trip? I listened attentively as last year’s participants described their experiences. Christians and Jews alike shared in the wonder of being together...something that many of them had never done before. Praise for the itinerary, the guides and the organizers was unanimous. Walking in the Holy Land held a special meaning for all and somewhat different for everyone. Their references to the Torah and the Bible or the ancient and new history of Israel brought to life for me the legacy handed down to me by my grandparents, my parents and my church. Perhaps this was an opportunity for me to connect who I am today as a Christian to the roots of my faith.
I viewed this opportunity as a knock on the door that had to be answered. How often would such an occasion arise to do an interfaith trip? The decision was made. I wanted to learn more about the land and times when Jesus lived and taught. In a way I wanted to walk in His footsteps.
National Geographic in 2012 had published a book that I bought to prepare for the Jewish, Christian and historical sites we would see. It was a good choice. With so much to see and take in I wanted to have a deeper sense of meaning by preparing in this way. A couple of months later as we walked the holy places in Jerusalem, touched the waters of the Jordan River, dipped into the Dead Sea, experienced life in a village in Nazareth, rode in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee, I knew I had prepared well.
Inspiration was in the rocks and in the walls that centuries of history had built and carved into a country that millions revere as their own spiritual home. It became that for me, too. I am connected in a new way with the messages and readings of Scripture. I feel a deeper sense of past as present, of thoughts and teachings spoken hundreds of years ago important and relevant as they are to me now.
The Jewish-Christian-historical focus of this Interfaith trip allowed all of us to find a perspective and a focus that brought meaning to our experience. We have shared those perspectives and our thoughts and memories at two dinners since then. The dialog that we have fostered at these gatherings has enriched my life and broadened my appreciation for the Jewish-Christian connection.
Another trip is in the planning right now led again by a Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi. Their Scriptural knowledge and spiritual insights enhance the visitor’s experience. The local tour guide completes them by exploring the ever changing history of Israel and its influence on the people .
Imagine yourself there with them. Consider this an opportunity not to be missed. Contact ...