Last year my husband’s parents presented the idea of going on a trip to the Holy Land, and they asked if we would go with them.
At first we declined, because the trip would occur only a month after we moved back to the United States. Vacation time and stress loomed heavy on our minds. But our hearts weren’t as sure. We prayed and ultimately knew that we had to go on this trip. We hoped it would build lifetime memories with his parents, strengthen our family, and deepen our faith.
February brought us on this journey.
We visited so many places that by lunch each day I was saturated and unsure my brain could actually hold on to anything else. Buildings from the 1400s seemed young and uninteresting in comparison to the ruins of Jesus’ time. I had to remind myself to take it in, because my mind couldn’t comprehend all that had happened at the sites where we stood.
Family moments are among the memories I most cherish. I watched my husband care for of his parents with patience and protection and envisioned him doing the same with little kiddos. The four of us shared dinners, and each one concluded with a trip to the desert table, over which we exchanged opinions on mouses and cakes and thoughts about the stirrings in our hearts.
We ended the trip in Jerusalem, a conundrum for my brain to process. The existence of Jews, Muslims and Christians, intertwined in one city. I watched the swaying bodies at the Western Wall earnestly submitting their prayers and tried to imagine their daily life. I wondered about the lives of the boys attending school in rooms upon the Temple Mount.
In the chaos, when I was still, God stirred my heart too. Sitting in a Jerusalem hotel room reading the book of Matthew, I contemplated that I was in the same city where Jesus taught and was persecuted. Our Israeli guide, an Arab Christian, showed us that from Gethsemane one could see a procession of people from the city – illustrating that Jesus could have fled his captors but instead chose to face death for our sake. After waiting in a shoving mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, we processed in front of the site where some believe the cross stood. In a quiet moment, I knelt down and put my hand into the divet in the rock before exiting to allow the throng of people behind me their own chance. In that brief moment, I understood just a little more of another conundrum my brain can’t quite comprehend – the vast love that sees my sin and selfishness, and despite that, chose sacrifice and death for my redemption. -m
[As always, I snapped photos in nearly every place we visited. I put them together in a photo book, which is available here.]
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46