When I told my friends, family, and colleagues about this trip they typically commented that this would be a very memorable vacation. I corrected them that this was a pilgrimage but I honestly wasn’t sure what it meant. On Day 4, The Reverend Rodney Aist, our course director, shared some inspiring thoughts on pilgrimages during our morning lecture. “The Footsteps of Jesus” is not just imagining the landscape of Jesus but looking at how Jerusalem relates back to our life at home. It’s about rethinking what you’ve always imagined and worshipping where his feet stood. You relive Biblical stories in a more appropriate place, where they actually happened.
Comparing vacations to pilgrimages, a pilgrim’s identity is self-determined where a tourist changes his environment regularly, but a pilgrim lets the environment change them. We take vacations to get away from life and work, where a pilgrimage confronts life’s most important questions.
Today we travelled to Jericho to have lunch before visiting the Jordan River, only to find that the River of Life was closed! It was Shabatt and the park closed early so we will stop there on Tuesday on our way to Galilee.
The day trip concluded in a serene and reflective way for me at the Judean Wilderness where Jesus was tempted by Satan (Wadi Qelt Overlook). The term wilderness doesn’t conjure positive images for me but as I sat alone in this vast expanse and prayed “A Pilgrim’s Prayer” silently, I felt an unforgettable sense of peace and security. I felt the presence of Jesus. –Sherryl Dorch
From A Pilgrim’s Prayer:
… May our desire to be Pilgrims never wane until we reach the destination you have prepared for us and for all. The Pilgrim’s way is indeed the way of life…