Ignatius of Loyola taught us to view life as a pilgrimage, following Jesus along the way. It is a healthy view of life, one that invites us to slow down and walk through life instead of constantly running everywhere we go. Yet there are times when we take a special journey to foreign land or a distant place to connect with the Lord.
A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey to special places, often following the footsteps of those who came before us. There is a “Pilgrimage” category in the Blog section of this site that contains posts that share stories and pictures from some of the pilgrimages we’ve made, either independently or with a spiritual formation group.
We have discussed leading pilgrimages ourselves in the future. Several people have expressed interest in joining us on a return to Israel. We are considering that as a possibility in the next year or two. Please let us know if you are interested in receiving information if and when it becomes available.
I can’t think of a better way to start this blog than sharing about what is perhaps my favorite place on earth, the Mount of Olives. Along with the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, I’m pretty sure it was one of Jesus’s favorite places, too.
When I was preparing to visit Israel, I imagined finding a grove of olive trees in a natural setting there, much like Jesus walked through many times in the gospels. I walked up a very long flight of stairs located just behind the Garden of Gethsemane. Gratefully, I found just the place I had pictured in the grounds of the Russian Orthodox Convent of the Ascension. A local shopkeeper directed me there after a providential meeting and a cup of Turkish coffee.
I had the privilege of sitting at the lone picnic table in the grove of trees pictured. My face and ears were sunburned after sitting in the sun for hours as I read through all of the Scripture related to the Mount of Olives, meditating on and contemplating the passages. It was one of the highlights of my pilgrimage to Israel.
I sat at that picnic table for hours, so long in the Judean desert sun that my ears became sunburned. But I did not notice until much later, and it did not matter. I was lost in my thoughts and lost in the Scriptures as I read every passage I could think of related to the Mount of Olives.
I imagined Jesus walking through the trees with his disciples on the way back and forth between Bethany and Jerusalem. I pictured him ascending into heaven as the apostles stood close to where I sat, looking up into the sky knowing that He will return again. And I imagined that return that seems more imminent with each day that passes.