DAY THREE: The Sea of Galilee

Trip Start Mar 31, 2010
Trip End Apr 10, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hotel Royal Plaza Tiberias

Flag of Israel  , Galilee,
Friday, April 2, 2010

Late yesterday afternoon, we arrived at our hotel on a hillside by Lake Tiberias, also known as the Lake of Gennesaret or the Sea of Galilee. It is some distance from town, so we can enjoy the wonders of nature all around us:  the prayerful quiet, the cool breeze blowing through our windows (albeit with some mosquitoes), the twilight sky, the birds singing, and yes, marvelous views of the Lake. I try to catch some quiet time by my window to enjoy all this.  It has been hard to find time to reflect, and when I do, I find myself lacking - my body is still weak from jet lag and a head cold that worsened on the plane. I had come with such high expectations for this pilgrimage - and God in His wisdom begins by showing me my frailty.

The hotel is full of people from around the world, Christians and Jews alike, the former on pilgrimage and the latter to celebrate Pesach, the Passover:  Israel, Kazakhstan, Britain, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico, US,... We see orthodox Jewish families take the stairs with their children and strollers because they cannot push the elevator buttons during the Sabbath, it is considered work.  There is still no leavened bread, only matzah, and no coffee for breakfast, everything is kosher. In the dining room, Jews wearing their kipahs at one table spontaneously break out in celebratory songs, while another time a Protestant Christian pastor stands to pray a blessing upon his group. Ultimately, all of us are here for the same reason, to give glory to God...

Today is our second full day of pilgrimage.  After breakfast, we eagerly head straight for the Lake, where we set sail on a (larger) replica of a Galilean fishing boat, such as Peter would have had, to celebrate Mass and cruise the lake to our next stop.  As we sail farther into the Lake, everything to me looks remarkably the same as it must have 2,000 years ago:  the calm waters as they ripple under the boat, the far away shore dotted with little villages, storks flying overhead, the Golan Heights beyond... and the silence. Ah, the silence... It is hard not to find God's presence in a place like this. " 'Depart from me. Lord, for I am a sinful man...' (Lk 5:8) "

The Mass is very moving for us, and even the kids and crew are paying attention, especially with Fr. Willie's homily, "The chicken runs at midnight."  There is healing to be found here. 

Afterwards, our captain and crew play Hebrew songs and teach us how to folk dance! We laugh and have a great time attempting Hava Naguila and others.
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