“Make sure you have comfortable shoes,” a friend told me earlier this year. “You will be doing a lot of walking.” She was right. I was going to the Holy Land and was glad that I took her advice. We walked up hills, down narrow paths, in dark caves and over desert sand. We walked around the streets of Bethlehem, Nazareth, Cana and Jerusalem. We walked in the Garden of Gethsemane and spent an hour in silent adoration at the rock where Jesus sweat blood - for you and for me. Our small group of thirty walked and walked and walked. Our pilgrims’ feet harmonized together as we went back in time to visit a people and culture we read about in history books or the bible.
The countless terrains we covered created a variety of sounds, each one creating its own unique song in our souls. As we walked, the sweet voices of birds sang along with our happy hearts at the wondrous places we visited. In small towns and villages, these birds greeted us at every turn, much as they did when Jesus walked the same paths. They sang sweetly as mass was celebrated in Bethlehem, Nazareth, on the Mount of Beatitudes and on Mount Tabor.
The sparkling Sea of Galilee whispered to our souls as we sang praise to God for His glory. The gentle lapping of the water along the shore sang volumes as we remembered when Jesus called to Peter, James and John to “come, follow Me.” In the early morning, the gentle rising of the sun stirred our hearts to sing to God for the beauty we witnessed. Even the wind whispered a melody all its own. There is music and harmony in all of God’s creation. However, we must open our hearts and souls in order to hear it sing to us. Our pilgrims’ feet moved slowly and reverently over the sacred ground. We captured and treasured each sweet sound, which was written on our hearts forever.
If you desire to experience inner tranquility, then you must visit the Church of Beatitudes and grounds, located near Capernaum. The Franciscans built the church in 1939 and in its construction captured the simple beauty of the Galilee area. The combination of surrounding trees and flowers give the church an air that is breathtaking to behold. It is situated at the top of a lush green plain, blanketed with mustard flowers, which rises gently from the Sea of Galilee. Gray and white arches surround the church, lending it a graceful elegance.
On a clear day, mass is held outside the church. The sun can be seen sparkling lightly on the Sea of Galilee as birds sing sweetly overhead. The vibrant blue sky is speckled with soft white clouds, as the wind whispers softly and caresses the faces of the congregation.
On Mount Tabor, we attended a mass that sang a special song forever in our hearts. At the moment of consecration, as if on cue, the bells rang out loud and clear. God was saying once again, as He did 2000 years ago, “This is My Beloved Son. Listen to Him.” It is here that Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John. From this same spot, miles and miles of the breathtaking land of Israel can be seen. You will get the feeling that you can see forever.
As we walked and walked throughout this beautiful land, we had the distinct feeling we were home. We could imagine Jesus as He taught men, women and children who followed him through the towns and villages of Galilee and Judea. However, He also looked into the future and saw you and me coming to visit this beautiful land. Do not miss the magnificent holy places throughout the Holy Land. Feel God’s peace. Feel His Presence.
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