Pilgrimage To Israel, Palestine And Jordan

Happy 2021! Wish you all a very happy and safe year ahead, and most importantly, a healthy life. Last year was a great year for all of us to take a new perspective on life and to figure out our priorities in life. This year, it’ll be time for us to take actions and contribute more to our society and even to our world.

Taking a moment to reflect from time to time is important.

In summer 2009, after my trip to the freezing cold Norway, I signed up for a pilgrimage to Israel, Palestine and Jordan. This would be a very good opportunity for me to do some reflections.

This time, I was travelling with a group of nearly 30 people whom I didn’t know. It was ok for me to travel with strangers like what I did when I went to Iran. However, honestly, I wasn’t (still am not) used to travelling with such a huge group. I shared a room with an elderly woman who joined this group by herself. That was brave of her. After the trip, she told her daughter that I took care of her. But I said to her daughter, ‘I think it’s the other way round.’ Lol!  So, you can tell, we had quite a good time there which I didn’t expect. I got loads of help from other people. Read on and you will know. 😉

The airlines we flew with took everything very seriously. First of all, the staff examined all our luggage extremely carefully at check in. They wore gloves and searched all our bags including the lining in details. Then when we arrived at the Tel Aviv airport, I was stopped by an immigration officer, holding my passport, interrogating me, ‘why did you go to Iran?’ and other questions relating to my 2006 trip there. I was very fortunate that I didn’t lose my group and the immigration officer let me go after he finished.

By the time we left the airport and reached our hotel, it was already very late. We hit the hay after we got our assigned room. I don’t even remember if I had time to get to know my roommate.

The next day, we all gathered early in the morning and started visiting our first church there.

St. Joseph Church
What a sweet scene! Mother Mary and St. Joseph were getting married.
The priest joked, ‘St. Joseph saw angels in his sleep all the time. You know what it means? He slept a lot.’
Death of St. Joseph. The priest admired it by saying that not too many churches portrayed the death of St. Joseph. We can also see Jesus and her mother in the painting.
Basilica of Annunciation
Mother Mary welcomed us with open arms
The Synagogue Church

Our tour guide is from Palestine who also is a Christian. The longer we stayed with him, the more we got to know him. He studied in Europe but after he finished, he came back to Palestine. He said he should have just stayed there so that he could provide his family a better life. Our priest consoled him. Who knows what is ‘better’?

Basilica of Annunciation
Basilica of Annunciation. The glorious star. This photo was in my second solo photo exhibition.
Inside Church of St. Gabriel, an Orthodox church. The tour guide even told us how to identify if a church was an Orthodox church by looking at the colours and the décor inside the church. This turned out to be very helpful for me when I was travelling in Georgia in 2017.
Mary’s Well

The priest shattered my image of Mother Mary. He said, ‘you can all feel the heat and the sun now. Imagine what it was like 2,000 years ago. It’d be similar, if not the same, for Mary. She had to come here every day to get the water. Do you think she would have soft and fair skin? All the paintings of Mother Mary were painted by western painters. They created an image based on their own imagination, environment and surroundings. The real Mother Mary could have rough and dark skin.’ Oh, please, priest. Stop taking us to the reality! Just let us immerse ourselves in our or the artists’ impression and imagination. And now, every time I see a painting of Mother Mary, his words come into my mind. 🙄

Wedding church in Cana
Water was turned into fine wine. So, some of us from the group bought a few bottles and shared with us. The taste? Hm… But I really loved the food we had. 😊

That ended our hectic trip for today. Tomorrow, we would continue our journey.

Stay tuned. 😊

22 – 23 July 2009

P.S. Happy New Year! This is my first blog in 2021 even though it is a memoir. 😊

If you like this post or have been inspired by my previous posts, feel free to buy me a drink by scanning the QR code below (you will then be invited to instal the PayPal mobile app). I am happy with any amount. Thank you.

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