Yes, dear readers, by this time next week I will be heading off to Jordan, Israel, Turkey and Greece on a 34 day study tour of the Bible Lands with the Catholic Theological College. I will be attempting to keep a daily diary via this ‘ere blog, so you can keep up with me as I go. All being well, Deo Volente, Insh Allah, Wifi hotspots and technology allowing etc.
It is my hope that this journey (which is a kind of sabbatical for me after 10 years of service at the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission) will enrich my understanding of many of the aspects of my daily work, both with the Commission and with my teaching for Anima. I expect that I will never listen again to the readings of Scripture in quite the same way.
A priest friend of mine, who has recently travelled in these areas, said something significant. He said: “Up till now these have been just stories for you. Now you will actually be there, where Jesus rose from the dead and met with Mary Magdelene, and where you will read ‘Here the Word became Flesh’ and you will ask yourself, ‘Really? Here? Did that really happen?”
For myself, I wonder, whether the past will still be visible in these places, or whether the present – the Wall dividing Israel and Palestine, the war in Syria, the Global Financial Crisis in Greece etc. etc. – will overwhelm everything else.
Pray for me, as I will pray for all my friends, family and colleagues on my journey. While it is a study tour, it is also a kind of pilgrimage for me. I have been to Rome and Constantinople and a number of other important sites, but this trip will be the “biggy”, so to speak. I don’t know quite what to expect, but I do expect to be very tired when I return – five weeks is a long time to be on any international journey, and I will certainly be missing home while away.