The most memorable place for me was Mount Tabor. The sun was shining strongly that day and there was a strong wind. The group had been split into different taxis at the foot of the mountain, as the bus could not travel the narrow, winding road. While we waited at the foot of the mountain at a rest area, we encountered a lot of different pilgrims of many nationalities from around the world. There were African, Nigerian and Brazilian pilgrims and I stopped and talked with one of them.
As we waited for our taxi to climb the mount, a group of Nigerian pilgrims began to sing, they were very happy and were dancing around. It was a very special moment, they were bursting with excitement. And it wasn’t long before they were joined by others. It was a joyful sight and extremely entertaining, they were all filled with the spirit and very glad to be there.
Once we reached the top of the mount by taxi, we waited for the other pilgrims to join us. As we waited in the car park, we heard the sound of a huge bell ringing in the near distance, I can still hear it ringing, it was extremely loud and it dulled all other sound. It was as if the heavens were ringing out!
We made our way on foot, eventually to beautiful ancient remains of an old church and gathered around and sat there, while we heard the gospel reading of the Transfiguration.
As I sat on the ancient dilapidated wall, my eyes were closed tight because the sun was beating strongly and heating my face, I tried to imagine the wonderful and illuminating sight, the scene of the transfiguration and began to think of the feelings of fear and awe that Peter, James and John would have felt in witnessing this extraordinary sight. I find it hard to believe I was here at this special and significant place.. where Jesus accompanied by Moses and Elijah, was transfigured. It was a very peaceful, serene and calming place.
I remember opening my eyes and large black spots appearing in my vision, I could focus, but the black spots were still there for some time after. As I approached the church of the Transfiguration I noticed that the windows were also depicting those same black spots.
I couldn’t help think about how the apostles coped with what they heard and saw. And how excited they must have been and how they must have been dying to tell all about what they saw.
On returning home from our pilgrimage, I have felt enlightened and also a bit unsure of what I am supposed to be doing on returning, its like I have a lot of things to achieve, I have received a lot of food and have been overfed and overwhelmed with all the significant places and events that have enfolded on my journey through faith in the Holyland. I am keen to talk to people about my experiences there but why do I find it hard to begin? I find it easier to talk with those who have been and seen with me.
I find it hard to understand that this beautiful country, with great overwhelming history through the life and death of Jesus and life again through his resurrection has given us an enormous power of love to change our lives, this place, a place of different cultures that have such strong belief in their faith, is still divided and living in disharmony.
As I was carried through this journey in a whirlwind of a Pilgrimage from Bethlehem of the humble beginnings and near where the shepherds were filled with excitement at the good news that was delivered to them, then I too should have nothing to fear in sharing my story. Just like the Nigerian piIgrims who outwardly showed a strong fearless expression of openess and joy in the presence of being, in anticipation of meeting Jesus on the mountain.