Monday, January 18, 2016

5 Weekly Graces Vol. 13


Hello friends! I'm currently writing to you from a bus on my way from the Dead Sea and a relaxing afternoon floating in the water! (Spoiler alert, that will be most likely be on the list next week...)

We've been using the same bus for travel days the whole trip and I just found out that there's wifi aboard which is fine because I'm typically the one glued to the window of the bus making audible ooh's and ah's. Since it's a bit darker and dusty on the ride back, I thought I'd do a brief check-in with this week's graces. 


1) Hospitality

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, nothing compares to the hospitality of strangers I have received while traveling abroad. I do know so very hospitable people in the states, but the overwhelming majority does not compare. I don't have the words to express my deep gratitude for all of the beautiful souls who have opened their lives and hearts to intertwine with mine- they are friendships and memories I will cherish forever. 

2) Harry

I collect crosses everywhere I travel. Whether it's a new state or a new country, I always keep my eyes open for a beautiful representation of the community I'm being welcomed into in the form of a cross. Obviously, there are many crosses in the Holy Land, but I usually try to find unique ones that are made locally and not mass produced - a tad more tricky to find and I'm not always able to do so. Yet by sheer luck, on the first afternoon that I went wandering off by myself I stumbled into a ceramic store with many beautiful, handmade pieces of art. The owner is a jolly old man who instantly welcomed me and excitedly offered to show me how everything is made and even let me help glaze a few pieces. It was so much fun! We chatted for a while and I learned about him and his family and the business. 

You probably already know based on the beginning of the story, but I found a gorgeous cross with a city scape of Jerusalem hand painted on it. I love it. It will forever remind me not only of my time in Jerusalem, but also of Harry, the kind man who took the time to share his passion and business with a complete stranger. 

3.) Strengthening Relationships

I've had a few opportunities on the trip to spend some time getting to know my fellow classmates and professors on a more personal level. In particular, my professor and I have gotten lunch and coffee together a couple of times and it's been lovely. She has been a mentor of mine for a few years now so it was such a blessing to learn more about her life journey and share a bit of mine. She is amazing

4.) Stellar Resources for Trip Preparation

In preparation for my trip in order to understand the more immediate history of Israel-Palestine I read "The Lemon Tree" by Sandy Tolan. It's a beautiful, fairly neutral presentation of the conflict that still has hold of this land. It was a great way to prepare and as I was finishing the book in country there were several places mentioned that I had either visited or planned to visit which was really neat. For example, it mentioned Ecce Homo and its beautiful views of the city which happens to be the place we are staying. Similarly, I've loved reading "Jesus: A Pilgrimage" by James Martin for the same reason. It's been a great resourse for the more spiritual side of the trip. I've even had podcasts that are random stories include tales of times in Jerusalem - thanks, The Moth

5.) Retreat Space

This weekend we had a brief retreat at the Franciscan monastery connected to the Church of the Beatitudes right along the Sea of Galilee. The grounds were spectacular and super peaceful. Though the exact location of the Sermon on the Mount is contested, it was still very powerful to imagine being up on the hill listening to Christ explain brilliant words of compassion in the warm sun overlooking the water. It was also great to have a day break from the go-go-go mentality of the trip - especially since I caught the nasty cold my classmates were passing around. 


We only have a day or so more left in the trip which is bittersweet since I don't want to leave this space but am ready to be home in my own bed. I will definitely be making the most of the time we do have though.

Thanks again for being so patient with my flakey blogging during this time. I'll definitely be more regular once I'm back in the States. 

How were you graced this week?

Peace,
Sarah 

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