A year ago today, we were in Israel, Nazareth to be exact. Having just left the Sea of Galilee, we meandered up the winding pathway of Mount Precipice bubbling with excitement. We were here, really here, in the place where the Nazarene walked 2000 years ago! Each step felt monumental, sacred and wholly surreal. Our gaze soaked up a view so expansive that it was hard to comprehend the vastness of the landscape. A gentle breeze swirled around us, stirring up scripture deposited long ago. It was easy to imagine the multitudes here. As far as the eye could see, in every direction, breathtaking serenity extended everywhere. We looked out over mountains and plains and Nazareth. Nazareth, a curious mix of modern and ancient buildings all meshed tightly together, no obvious boundaries separating the old from the new. This is where Jesus dwelled, where he worked and fulfilled prophecy, where he lived fully human, amongst family and man.
As we descended the mountain, a volley of gunfire rang out, startling us. We made a beeline for the bus not caring to find out what was actually going on, hearts in our mouths, legs like jelly, unfamiliar to the thudding sounds ricocheting across the valley. We scrambled for the open door of the bus with a sense of urgency, falling into our seats, the serenity pierced through. In that moment, I was 'fall on your knees' grateful to be whisked away. The door slammed shut and we skirted rough terrain, chugging past biblical landscapes and sheep grazing the hillside, on past the little church of Cana. W-A-I-T a minute, the Church of Cana, where the wedding took place according to the apostle John? I craned my neck, glimpsing the church exterior just visible above the tree line. Our guide, Yosef, diligently pointed out the sites from his position perched at the very front of the bus. He implored us in his Jewish-English accent, as was often the case, to 'Look, my Beloved' as he jabbed the air, directing our eyes to the sites steeped in history, all the while unfurling scripture before our very eyes. Through the tree line, I squinted at the little turrets peeking out from the foliage, spotted a green roof or two and wondered if this church was built upon the ruins of the old or was it a namesake monument? The initial foundations of many of the sites we visited, were still visible today, thousands of years later. I squirrelled this image of this little church amongst the trees away in my mind, filing it carefully, absorbing the details so that I could easily pull this very scene when I read the passage next.
A sense of other worldliness exists in this place. Time has indeed stood still. It is not difficult to be swept up in the stories or the context of scripture from so long ago. When all is said and done, there is a palatable sense that this land holds holy stories, beckoning us to marvel and unravel its mysteries.
This is a land still waiting for her history to unfold.