In March of this year, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to the Holy Land for a two week pilgrimage. Never could I imagine how incredible the experience would be — how deeply it would move my spirit and expand my understanding of Jesus, the Christ — and the faith he was about. Included here are reflections I wrote during quiet moments at various holy sites along with what I tried to capture in photo. May these thoughts increase your trust in the Holy One, who is Love to all forevermore!
BETHLEHEM: SHEPHERDS’ FIELD
O God, here I lie in the Shepherds’ Field.
On two big rocks – two of the very rocks they might have rested on as well.
It’s a great place to rest for the night. Overlooking the valley between here and Bethlehem. It’s a great place to ponder life. My hopes. My dreams. My limitations. I expect many a shepherd has rested here too underneath this great expanse of sky, pondering the same of their lives: their hopes. Their dreams. Their limitations.
Exceeding joy at such good news! That from this day forward NOTHING ever shall be the same! Of course, I’m terrified, as I’m sure they too were. But grateful. For this spot reminds that life doesn’t just have to be the hum drum of tending, day in and day out. Chilly frightful nights and long hot days. Parched. Longing perhaps for something more . . . The words form: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! . . . This place asks: what gift shall I be because of it? . . . Great and exceeding joy! Hope embodied! Possibility! Hallelujah! Amen!
Writing Later that day:
The Shepherds’ Field was wonder-filled! I could totally imagine being there. Busy with my everyday life and everyday concerns. Perhaps wondering if this was how it’d always be – cold stones underneath. Stinky, needy sheep all around. Tending and watching and just passing time as I learned my family’s trade. . . . Until that fate-filled night. Suddenly my every other day was shattered. Surprised in an instant. I’m sure I’d be terrified! Because nothing again would be the same. I’d been summoned to see something miraculous and the wonder of it all certainly would work upon me. I’m not sure I’d be allowed to leave the same. I’m not sure I’d want to. I think I’d want to believe. Have hope. Trust that it all was true. Gloria en excelsis! Immanuel, the LORD our God is with us! . . .
If I never believed before, I think I’d start. I hope I would. Having been there with that baby, that mother and father in the cave, locked out of everywhere else for fear she’d make them all unclean. And yet with such courage they brought that child into the world. With such bravery they stood together for one another. I’d like to think that all would have had an impact upon me. That that gift: God’s gift to be present to us – to me – would ready me to be a gift in return!
On the eve of that birth, may you reflect upon the gift you will be in return!
Merry Christmas All!