The opening words of the Bible. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Or, perhaps better, “the land.” Well, today, I will visit the land that grounds the Hebrew and Christian narratives found in the Bible. We’re off, all 19 of us, through the air, practically halfway around the globe. We’ll be spending the next week in Israel and the West Bank. The Holy Land.
This trip has been a long time coming for me. In college, I was supposed to travel with a group sponsored by my home church. But October 2000 marked instead the beginning of the second Intifada or uprising, a period of instability and violence that lasted for several years. All begun just a brief two weeks before I was supposed to board the plane. It appears that will not prevent us from making the trip now, 12 years later.
I’ll be posting my thoughts each evening (early morning Stateside) here, I hope, and look forward to hearing from all of you faithful readers in the comments. I’ll also be posting photos and brief notes as it’s possible on my Facebook account and via Twitter–follow me @expatminister!
Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, our bishop in the Texas Annual Conference, is leading our little group. When she finally made her first visit to Israel, she had a wonderful experience, marred only by the fact that it was so late in her ministry and it perhaps didn’t have the lifelong impact which it could have made earlier in her life. So she decided to invite some of us younger clergy to make a spiritual pilgrimage with her, her husband Bob, and conference lay leader Leah Taylor. I’m also enthused that Christie and I are able to make this journey together. We love travelling internationally, but haven’t been able to do so since we returned from Britain in 2006. (We didn’t bring the HaleFam kids along…I don’t think the Holy Land is quite ready for that!) I look forward to the ways in which I will draw closer to the land which is such an important character in the Biblical narrative, to the people who live in this country of varying ethnicities and creeds, and most importantly (but perhaps most elusively) to God.
Thanks for journeying with me, and I look forward to fielding your questions and sharing some of what I’m experiencing with all of you!
Have you taken a pilgrimage before? Or just been to a place that has seemed more holy to you?
Share your experience in the comments below!