Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day Seven: Gallivanting in Galilee

Today was a much slower day than the past few. Our plan was to visit some of the Holy sites around the Sea of Galilee. We started with the Church of the feeding of the Multitude, where is is believed Jesus fed the 5000 men (and an unknown number of women and children) using the five loaves and two fish. I wasn't overly impressed with the church to be honest, even though it has 'the rock' that the food was blessed upon (I'm a little skeptical). Then we moved on to where Jesus appeared to the disciples when they were fishing after the Resurrection. It is a beautiful beach, and we spent some time in the water, skimming stones (which I'm sure Jesus would have done as he was waiting for the disciples). I was surprised that no one had thought of putting BBQs there. There was an amazing sense of calm there, which was counterpointed later in the day when we read about Jesus calming the storm.
Next stop was Capernium, where the is a stunningly beautiful Greek Orthodox church, the Monastery of the Twelve Apostles, which remembers the calling of the disciples. The pictures that covered the walls were incredible! We then went to what Nive referred to as a 'ninja picnic spot' loving over the Sea of Galilee, where we eat plenty, including a whole watermelon between the 10 of us. I'm sad to say a lot was thrown away.

Our final holy spot was the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Once again the scenery was stunning! We sat among a group of rocks and reflected of Luke 5. We had a time of silence, prayer and contemplation. The wind was pretty strong, but I felt totally at peace, and as I thought back to some of the things we have experienced I welled up. I also visited the Church on the Mount, which was totally underwhelming. Compared to being outside, surrounded by the wonders of creation, the church seemed totally devoid of any feeling. (This is my view, others in the group really liked it.)

We drove back to Tiberius and set out down to the water's edge to go swimming. Except we walked quite a way, finding that the beach was either for hotels' private use or just closed off... So we had an ice cream and then I went for a little lie down.

At dinner we had another random experience, as a massive group of young people arrived, apparently American Jews on a 'birthright trip' where they learn about their Jewish heritage. But what really caught us out was that one of their number was openly carrying a late pistol on her right hip. We all felt a little nervous to be around her. But we knew that it was there to make that group feel safe. Strange how it can have two polar opposite effects.

After dinner, we sat in the hotel lobby and Nive read through all the things we had down since we met up on Tuesday night. It was incredible to hear how we fitted some much into such a short time! And emotions were high, again I felt a tear or two. Nive read us a reflection on 'remarkable thing' which was beautiful. However there was someone playing some really dramatic music on the piano, which caused us all to crack up.

After a fairly heavy time of reflection, we headed down to a local bar for a few drinks, some wonderful conversation and an unwind. We got into the hotel at gone midnight, and I fell asleep almost straight away (hence not blogging).

It was strange to think that it was our last full day together, something I don't think any of us wanted to dwell on really.

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