Thursday, February 21, 2013

Returning through Memories

Jim viewing Jersualem from the Mount of Olives

In Facebook posts someone is sending pictures from Israel while they are on a trip to the Holy Land. Today they posted a picture on the Sea of Galilee.

Seeing the pictures brought on a flood of memories of the trip Jim and I made more than a dozen years ago. The images are still so vivid.

We arrived in Jerusalem, and then in the next two to three weeks of our tour we moved on to the Galilee, to Mt. Nebo, by way of Petra in Jordan, and then we crossed into Egypt for a trip up Mt. Sinai ending with another few days in Jerusalem. It was wonderful!

Our tour leader was the incomparable Biblical scholar and Paulist Priest, Fr. Larry Boadt who could be counted on for inspiring sermons and enlightening teaching of the archeology and holy sites. And, lots of laughter.

I am so grateful to have shared the trip with Jim.  There are many sweet and touching memories and a few that are completely hilarious.

When we were at the foot of Mt. Sinai the plan was to climb at 2 am so that we would arrive at the top for sunrise. I knew I could not walk up so Jim hired a camel for me. I was game because I really wanted to climb to the top and share the early morning Mass with the group. It turned out to be quite an experience. The camel driver left the path and in the intense darkness I have no idea whether we were on a well-trodden way or not. I could see our group - including Jim -some distance away with their flashlights bobbing as they walked. The camel stepped carefully and the driver cooed to reassure him he was doing a good job. Initially I was nervous - no - I was scared - and then I began to really see the stars - so bright in the inky sky. It was as though we were on that mountain side completely alone. It was glorious.

Jim reached the concrete dismount at the same moment the camel knelt beside it and the driver said, "Madam, throw your leg over the side." Was he crazy? After two hours on the back of the beast I could not move my leg. Fortunately for my modesty it was Jim's hands Jim reached up and lifted me down.

We were on the top of Mount Sinai at sunrise which is an indelible memory. On the way down the group stopped at an outcropping clearing where Father Boadt said Mass and we had Communion. A blessing.

For the years afterwards when Jim and I heard or read certain Gospel passages we would look at each other, smile and nod. Nothing else was needed.

My heart aches for that closeness with each other's memories.

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