After about 14 ½ hours in the air and about 24 hours of travel, we made it home last night. Thankfully, we were given an extra hour with the “fall back” time change!
We had the opportunity to see history from different eras:
- From the time of the First Temple (8th – 6th Centuries BCE) at Megiddo, Jericho and Jerusalem,
- From the time of Jesus and the Second Temple (60 BCE to 70 AD) at Caesarea, Capernaum, Galilee, Bethany beyond the Jordan, Qumran, Jerusalem and Bethlehem,
- From the time of the Romans at all of the times for Jesus plus Caesarea Philippi and Jerash,
- From the time of the Byzantine empire (330 ~ 690 AD) and crusaders (1095 – 1291) – especially in some churches and left over strongholds,
- From the time of the various iterations of Caliphates and the Turks, with a special nod to Petra in this period,
- From the time of the British (early 1900’s to 1948),
- And finally from the modern state of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
We also saw a great diversity of landscape ranging from the coastal plain to the highlands on either side of the Jordan to the amazing wild of Wadi Rum, to the Galilee and the Dead Sea.
We have met wonderful people from every area, and found the Jordanians particularly hospitable. The guides were each full of information and also left us with fond memories of each of them as persons living in this tumultuous area. Of course we were also blessed with wonderful travel mates, and friendships were made or deepened by this experience.
On the political front, we are much more aware of the complexities of the area. Here is a Jewish nation who have been hardened by the experience of centuries, indeed millennia of discrimination crowned by the genocide of the Holocaust. It is not a united group, indeed more divided that what we see in Canada, between the Orthodox Jews, those who come from elsewhere to set up Jewish Settlements in the West Bank (substantially increasing tension), the majority of observant or non-observant Jews who wish to find a peaceful coexistence with the Arab community within Palestine, Israeli Arabs, Arab Christians, and a small (mostly Orthodox) Christian community. It is a complex world, surrounded by complex relations with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the remnants of Syria, and the rest of the Arab Islamic world. We have a sense of the tension over the Temple Mount, and the deep distrust on both sides.
We also have had a glimpse into a world where water is such a precious resource, and has been a deciding factor for thousands of years. We are blessed in Canada in just so many ways.
From the perspective of faith, it has been deeply stirring. To have been in the areas where Jesus grew up and where he did most of his ministry provides so much sense of context to the stories we have been hearing since our childhoods. To walk the areas of Jerusalem that Jesus spent his final hours and days within seems somehow more complex, but no doubt will have its own impact. Mostly, all of this history seems more real now. And it also leaves me with the full sense that Jesus is not to be found in these places, but maybe it can help us find our own connection with Him.
Gentle reader, thank you for coming with us on this journey. May this journey be a blessing to each of you as it has been for us.