Our second full day of touring was a challenging day. Well, at least that is for me.
Since we landed in Tel Aviv on Monday evening I’ve been dealing with a swollen foot. It comes with the territory when flying for 11-hours and, as well, when you have a right foot that easily swells and sprains. Yesterday’s touring just made it worse, which led to me visiting an Israeli drug store to purchase an Ace bandage.
That seemed to help today, but for most of the morning I was in a lot of pain trying to walk around. The trip to the Holy Land is an experienced filled with walking, so to be down a foot has been difficult. Walking to our boat to tour the Sea of Galilee was an exercise in hopping more than walking. The same goes for our tours of the church that honors Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 and the one that honors Jesus’ third appearance to the disciples following his resurrection.
One of the things that I committed myself to doing was not stopping. This is an once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I was not going to let a bum foot keep me from enjoying the day.
I’m glad I had that perspective, because today was a wonderful day of holy encounters meeting the presence of God in these sites.
We rode across the Sea of Galilee to start the day. On choppy waters with a cold breeze, we sailed across the same sea that Jesus calmed the storm and walked on the water. You couldn’t help but be amazed that you were there and in those same places.
When we disembarked from the boat, we ventured to a museum that housed a boat that dates to the time of Jesus. This boat was found by two fishermen in the Sea of Galilee and it took nine years to preserve the boat in its present form. It helped to put things into perspective about the kind of life the disciples had prior to meeting Jesus.
Visiting the two churches that connect to some of the important moments in Jesus’ life was breathtaking. I took some time to pray at the church that represented Jesus’ feeding miracle. Sadly, though, as I lit the candle I extinguished the center candle you are supposed to light your candle from. What can I say … I leave my mark when I’m away.
We also saw an excavation project at Magdela. The interesting thing about this site is that it features a synagogue that was never rebuilt. Most of the synagogue ruins in Israel have multiple versions on top of them. The reason is that new communities would just build on top of what was already there. That was not the case in Magdela, which was destroyed during the Roman efforts to quell the Jewish rebellion and was never truly resettled. It was fascinating to see all the elements to the synagogue and to learn more about how this synagogue (in the corner of the town) was unlike others (which are mostly found in the center of town).
Finally, we visited Bet Shean, which is a community that was the location of Saul’s death (1 Samuel 31). It is interesting for touring purposes because of the Roman remains there. We saw Roman columns dating to the 8th century and ruins from an earthquake in that period. We were also able to get a glimpse of the entire area from a mountaintop nearby that provided a view of the Israel-Jordan border.
That brings us back to the story about my foot and never giving up. The climb to the stop was several hundred feet up that required traversing about 110 steps. I could have easily made the decision not to make the climb and just walked around the bottom with some others. I decided to give it a go, because who knows when I’ll have this experience again.
I’m glad I did.
The views on top were amazing. I would not have had the same experience had I stayed on the bottom. Sure, I would have enjoyed it, but it would not have been the same.
It just goes to show that sometimes we have to push through the difficult moments in order to experience our own mountaintop moments of faith.