Posts Tagged ‘water’

pilgrimage day 5 – there are a lot of churches in Galilee…

December 13, 2008

… I guess that makes sense since that is where Jesus really got going with his teaching and where he dropped his most memorable revelations on God’s kingdom and “How To’s” for Christians – Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes etc. We drove for a long time out of Nazareth, past many green and brown landscapes dotted with black basalt rocks. Eventually we reached the Mount of the Beatitudes – well not *the* mount, the Franciscans own a 3km stretch of the mountains where Jesus preached and in one particular spot built the Church of the Beatitudes:

1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2. Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
4. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
6. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
8. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

In the church you will find eight of lots of things to represent the eight Beatitudes: eight windows, eight pillars etc. It was a really pretty church with lots of airy whites, blues and golds and surrounded by gardens lovingly tended by the Franciscan sisters. You were not allowed into the church if you were not ‘appropriately’ dressed which meant covered shoulders and there was a basket of shawls and watchful sister at the entrance to keep the sacredness in tact. We are given a generous TEN minutes to walk around the gardens, explore the church and get back to the bus.

Church of the Beatitudes

Church of the Beatitudes

Next the bus unloaded us in Tabgha where there are two churches: the Church of the Multiplication and the Chapel of the Primacy of St. Peter. The first church is built where Jesus performed the miracle of multiplication – feeding five thousand men (and an unknown number of women of children) with 2 fish and 5 bread loaves. Here we passed by the church onto a simple basalt altar near the Sea of Galilee shore. We sat on big logs under dried banana leaf shades for Mass, where we read about the multiplication and sat in silence for the first time on the pilgrimage. It was very peaceful being on the land where Jesus taught and feeling God in the silence. At the end of the tour many people would come to describe this place as their favourite in the tour. After this we visited the Church of the Multiplication where the altar is placed over the rock on which Jesus is believed to have performed the multiplication miracle. And sticking with the fish theme, there was a nice Koi pond and animal mosaics.

Simple is good

simple is good

Multiplication altar

Multiplication altar

We got back on the bus for a short hop to the Chapel of the Primacy of St. Peter, where Jesus appeared to the disciples for the third time after he had risen and ate breakfast with them and where he gave Peter the command to “Feed my Sheep” (hence conferring the primacy of his Church to him). In memory of the latter there is a statue of Jesus blessing a genuflected Peter. Here Frank read from his heavily post-it’ed Bible and people took the opportunity to wade in the waters of the Sea of Galilee. There was also a bathroom stop here but you had to pay a couple of shekels. One mama in our tour was not impressed and declared that she was going to go in the bushes. This startled Frank such that he shoved enough shekels for two bathroom trips into her hands and gasped something along the lines of ‘No, no! Please, it’s on me!’.

me + Sea of Galilee

me + Sea of Galilee

Next we were onto church #4 at Capharnaum, where Peter lived and Jesus taught in the synagogue. This place was archaeologically interesting since there were many preserved ruins and one set of ruins used to be Peter’s house. Over these hovers a *whole* church held in place with only three or four metal bars, inside the church has a glass floor at its center so you can look down into the ruins. The other set of ruins is a synagogue that still has whole tall pillars intact. But if you look along the outer edge of it you can see a line of black basalt rock below the khaki coloured rock. The black rock is what’s left of the original temple that Jesus taught in at Capharnaum – rocks that Jesus walked on, wow.

Two layers - black basalt and other whiter rock

Two layers - black basalt and other whiter rock

After Capharnaum we were rushed off to a restaurant where we were going to have a very special lunch called Peter’s Fish. This was special because it consisted of the same kind of fish that Peter caught in the Sea of Galilee. It was so special in fact that it cost $17. In the end the older folk went for the lunch but a few of the younger folks decided to wander around outside. There wasn’t much to see besides a shop and a petrol station, but just beyond these we found a lone food stall where there was a woman making some kind of flat bread for $6.  Isabel, Luisa, A, E, the another young doctor, L, and I ordered one and watched her make it. She started by rolling out a dough, then pulling it out into a circular shape over a big cushion and then frying it on a big dome shaped gas cooker. When it was finished cooking she slathered it with creamy goat’s milk cheese, salt and herbs and then folded it up and cut it into six pieces. This was served with a bowl of olives and we ordered two breads so that was lunch for $2 each! It was a very relaxed lunch, we sat at a table the woman had set out while she played with her baby who was lying on a bed near the back of her stall. She was very shy but friendly and her and A bonded over her baby and she ended up giving us a branch full of fresh dates that she had hanging up.

over a cushion

over a cushion

lunch to share

lunch to share

After lunch we were taken for a ride in a boat which was a replica of the so-called Jesus Boat on the Sea of Galilee. There was a DJ-type set up on the boat and there was much merriment with the hoisting of the South African flag, singing of national anthems and dancing. When we got back to the shore we got to have a bathroom break in a museum where Isabel and I bought ice-cream. By this stage I was still carrying my money in an ever-disintegrating paper envelope inside a traveller’s belt strapped across my tummy. The charming guy behind the counter leaned over to me and said “You know they have this invention, is a wonderful theeng – is called a walleet’. I responded by looking up from my flakey envelope and said “What? A wallleeettt?? I must see if I can find one! What’s it called again a, a?” “-Walleet” he replied, “A- a wallleeeeettt?” I said “Thank you so much!” and then we all had a good nudge-nudge-wink-wink laugh (especially Isabel!).

singing the portuguese anthem on the Jesus Boat

singing the portuguese anthem on the Jesus Boat

in Cana

in Cana

By this stage we were all pretty pooped but we still had *another* stop in small charming and cobbled Cana, . We went to the Wedding Church built over a likely place for the wedding feast where Jesus performed his first miracle and probably a very popular place for weddings. Here people renewed wedding vows, remembered spouses that had passed and prayed over single us folk (which I tried to not to find condescending). There were also more ruins of a Jesus-era house complete with pots that wine would have been stored in. Finally we head back to Nazareth were we had a very early dinner and Luisa and I spoilt ourselves with outrageously expensive cappuccinos. While we were sipping , Frank joined us and we had a long chat. Frank turned out to be an interesting character with some kind of checkered past who is disillusioned with religion and the hypocritical priests in Jerusalem who have rich lifestyles while little money finds its way to poor Christian families. We also discovered that Frank had been mysteriously absent from our Masses because, while he loves the churches he visits deeply, he feels that he defiles them because of his past. We also learn that he is very into academic reading and theology. He also tells us that the mama in our group really shocked him when she declared that she was going to forgo the paid bathrooms at Tabgha and how he had never experienced a group whose schedule was as difficult as ours to maintain and who moved as slowly, mmmm.

Tomorrow we were to leave Nazareth and head to Jerusalem – which was fitting since Jesus left the towns near the Sea of Galilee where things were kind of cushy for him and headed for Jerusalem towards his ultimate destiny…

Tally for the day: 6 churches, 2 sets of ruins, 1 boat ride

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pilgrimage day 4 – the way to Nazareth

December 2, 2008

Early wakeup call, today we changed hotels and cities which meant luggage had to be packed by 6am and then grabbing our breakfast boxes and getting on the bus for the long drive to Nazareth… eh except there was problem with that plan. At the hotel front desk I discovered there was some debacle with our breakfast boxes. V was telling someone from the hotel that they were unacceptable. Something about them being in bags and not boxes, I really couldn’t see what the fuss was about. The word spreading among the group who were milling around before deciding to nab the chance to have breakfast at the hotel. There was a lot of confusion and, in a sort of panic that there would be no breakfast, people began wolfing down big hunks of the hotel’s breakfast buffet. I hiccuped a lot, which led to lots of people giggling at me. We were rushed along with crumbs practically falling out of our mouths to catch the bus and breakfast boxes were cancelled completely.

This odd morning changed the program for the whole day – we missed our Mass slot at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth and V spent lots of time on the phone rearranging everything. Unfortunately this meant that no one knew what was coming up next and V wouldn’t tell us (presumably because she didn’t know herself). I thought it was rather peculiar that we were constantly being hurried along so as not to miss slots but sub-par breakfast boxes were good enough reason to miss them. We drove for hours with Frank talking a lot about the countryside and the highway that we were driving on which was gashed through the countryside. Our first stop was a petrol station where Isabel and I bought some unidentifiable Hebrew/Arabic water and chocolates and then we drove for more hours. Eventually we reached Cessaria where many of Jesus’ followers lived and preached and where Herod lived for a while and which was very hot and desert like (though there was a very lush golf course there). It was visually spectacular: old amphitheatre, a garden with broken pillars and then walking through a gate which revealed the breathtaking city ruins complete with a hippodrome. Sadly we did not have get to walk through the ruins but were loaded onto the bus and driven to another beach were we saw an old aqueduct and people dipped their feet in the Mediterranean, I would have preferred to walk through the ruins more.

many steps

many steps

aqueduct

aqueduct

We finally reached Nazareth; my first impression of it was that it was rundown but quaint. We started at a Greek Orthodox Church built over a well where Mary used to fetch water a few times a day. We were not allowed to take photos in the church and that was kind of blessing since it allowed us to enjoy it – it was beautiful and intricate with many golden lamps a big heavy chandelier. The well itself was surrounded by a fence but there was a small tap you could drink from, although after we drank we discovered the water was not quite safe (lucky we have tough tummies). We walked the route Mary would have walked carrying water from the well to the Church of Joseph (built over Josephs’ carpentry) and then onto the main event: the Church of the Annunciation. Here is it believed that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she was going to have a very special child. The church is amazing, outside there is a courtyard with many mosaics from different countries portraying Mary. It was interesting to see the different cultural portrayals of her. There was even one from South Africa would our tour organiser, V had brought all the way and placed on its spot. When we entered the church we were greeted with high ceilings and a wide open space, no pulpit no pews. This was a bit confusing but then we saw that there was a sunken level with an altar in front of a big black iron gate which fenced off the grotto in which Mary’s house was believed to be located. There was an Italian Mass taking place and later on we got our turn to have Mass – quite a touching one. It was the first time we were able to spend a while at it since we were the last group of the day to do Mass (in this sense the morning-gone-awry worked out quite well). Father Chico’s main message was that we should remember that, in all the madness of the tour, we should remember that we would find God in silences. Our group offered many personal prayers which gave me an insight into the struggles, illnesses and concerns the other pilgrims had.

downtown Nazareth

downtown Nazareth

the Church of the Annunciation in in the background

the Church of the Annunciation in in the background

cultural aesthetics

cultural aesthetics

After Mass we went walking back through downtown Nazareth and were led to – bleh – another souvenir shop. This upset some folks because they thought the shop in Bethlehem was the only shop we would be going to and this shop had some better deals. Isabel and I bought fridge magnets, that girl has a rather adorable obsession with them 😉 A couple on the tour – A (pregnant) and E were not digging the fact that we had been rushed through town only to linger at another touristy place so they went off to explore on their own, wish I had thought of that at the time since there were no other chances to explore downtown Nazareth.

That evening we met our new hotel, which V had told us would not be as nice as the one in Bethlehem. We definitely thought different – there was an amazing view, a huge pool and nice food. Us sisters when for a night swim before dinner. Over lots of hummus and aubergines we had a good chat with A and E. So not the super conservative people I thought they were, we discovered lots of common ground from uncompleted postgrad theses all the way to misgivings about the running of the tour and the bossiness of V. Ah it was nice to not feel like the only grumpy troopers – grumpiness decreased and camaraderie increased 🙂

Tally for the day: 3 churches, 1 ruined city, 2 beaches, 1 tourist trap