I’m here in the holy land to document my 11th tour group from Ecclesia Houston embarking on a Breaking Bread Journeys tour. I wanted to try to get something up before I sleep to commemorate the arrival day for an amazing group of new friends who have all come together to discover the beauty, depth, history, and diversity of this magical land. Here are some images from this first day together in Netanya, Israel, a simple beachside town with many beautiful, serene scenes to welcome even the most travel-weary sojourner.
I won’t write much today as it was basically a free day with the group taking it easy to recover from travel and jet lag. We enjoyed a small reception for the entire group to meet each other where we also met Christina Samara and Lisa Moed, co-owners of our tour company, Breaking Bread Journeys, the first joint Israeli-Palestinian tour company. Pastor Chris shared with us why the holy land is such a meaningful destination for him and included these quotes for us to consider as we take in all the perspectives we will encounter this week:
“To feel the pull, the draw, the interior attraction, and to want to follow it, even if it has no name still, that is the ‘pilgrim spirit.’ The ‘why’ only becomes clear as time passes, only long after the walking is over.” ―Kevin A. Codd, Beyond Even the Stars: A Compostela Pilgrim in France
“To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendor and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe. Above all, Christians go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to the places associated with the Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection.” ―Pope Benedict XVI
I’d also like to add these two quotes that are fitting for our journey:
“There never was a pilgrim who did not come back to his village with one less prejudice and one more idea.” — 19th-century French writer François-René Chateaubriand
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
After the reception, we enjoyed a group dinner at a cafe called The Scotsman near our hotel. The views of the Meditteranean Sea from Netanya are breathtaking; we enjoyed walks on the beach and explored the town. The official tour kicks off tomorrow bright and early as we head into Nablus, Palestine!