The intention of this journey was to build a bridge of peace and light in the region. By chosing to show up, express our gratitude, and be open light bearers, we embarked on a journey to the east of our own. With over 140 people converging from around the world, we came with a group intention to support JR in his ministry and to celebrate his 80th birthday. We know that there is much work going on "behind the scenes" but it takes the physical presence to anchor our intention and support of peace in the region. Yes, there were concerns of safety and security, but those fell by the wayside once we arrived and absorbed the loving energy of the group and the people we met. One Palestinian driver expressed it this way to me, "War is bad for business, we don't like it. We want peace and for people to come visit and see the beauty of this land and share together in harmony". I couldn't envision a more perfect theme for our adventure.
Click on the day heading for links to pictures from each day.
Tracy and I wondered around the old city starting with walking the South Rampart Wall, which gives a good perspective for first time visitors. As this was my third time and Tracy's first time to Israel, I wanted to show her as much of the beauty, splendor, and majesty of this region. We walked the entire southern wall and wound up at the Western Wall where we separated and prayed in the places dedicated for men and women, planted light columns, and soaked in the energy. We joined a tour of the wall tunnels that was fascinating; seeing the foundation of the city, and learning how Herod's workers built the walls was impressive. From there we ventured on foot through the Lion's Gate to the Garden of GethsemanW and the Mount of Olives. We spend quite a bit of time in the garden just talking and holding the light. We arrived just in time to celebrate mass at the church. On top of the Mount of Olives we took in the famous views arcross the valley to the old city.
After a long day we taxied back to the David Citadel Hotel and met up with the Light Tour group of about 140 people for our first meeting. Everyone was very excited about the journey ahead and the energy was electric. Jsu, the tour coordinator, gave us a briefing of what was to come, but without detail so as not to spoil the surprises. And yes, there were many.
The meeting concluded, and we all scattered to have dinner on the town and catch up with old friends. After dinner Tracy and I ventured off to the David Citadel Museum to catch the night light show about the history of the temple and old Jerusalem from past to present. A very well done show all done with music and imagery. Jet lag set in and off to bed, proud of ourselves that we made it through a long day with falling over!
Today the group set off in three buses to tour the highlights outside the old city to the east. We visited the traditional sites: Western Wall, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Mount of Olives. Benji gave us a great overview of the history of the region while we sat overlooking the city of Jerusalem. We went back to the walled city and toured various sites including the Upper Room (Last Supper location). Then we walked the Via Dolorosa (path of Jesus), stopped in several holy places, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Then we had a typical lunch in the Armenian Quarter. After a long day, we headed back to the hotel and then off to dinner.
On the busses at 8:07am (a favorite starting time of Benji's, our wonderful tour guide leader along with Birte and Shraga) and off to area of Tiberias and Galilee. A full day of seeing the sites in this historic part of Israel. John gave a seminar at the Mount of Beatitudes at the same location (roughly) of Jesus's famous sermon. Then off to Capernaum and a visit to the old Jewish temple where Jesus spent time ministering to the the people. The site of the temple held a very strong positive light energy and, after Shraga gave a wonderful perspective of the site, we wondered around and breathed in the energy.
Off to the Sea of Galilee where we ate a quick lunch then boarded a boat for a ride on the sea. We sang and danced and had a great time seeing the various sites from the water. From there we boarded the buses and headed off to the Jordan River for our babtism ceremony.
(I love the picture of Leigh Taylor-Young Morton)
Always a beautiful, heartfelt ceremony, we all emersed ourselves in the river, dressed in traditional white, and babtized each other. A special energy formed, and, upon recommendation from Benji, we baptized each other many times. It was my honer to baptize Tracy and she, in turn did me. 8 more followed for me and if it were not for time constraints, I could have been there another hour. The joy and light was palpable. The group energy was exceptional as we got back on the buses and headed to our spot for dinner on the sea. We had a great dinner of local cuisine, but we were interrupted by an amazing site: the full moon rising over the Sea of Galilee. It was big, bold, orange, with a reflection on the water that couldn't be beat. We felt blessed and honored as we finished our meal. Back on the buses for the 3 hour drive back to the hotel. Exhausted and exhilerated, we slept like a log!
Today was a free day to relax and wander. We decided to see the Temple Mount where we planted light columns and wandered around. Lunch was in the Jewish Quarter in a great courtyard restaurant where we watched the comings and goings of tourists and locals alike. The afternoon was spent at the Davidson Center where we explored the excavations of the southwest part of the temple wall. Since my last time here, the center had many new features, including a great 3D computer model of how the city looked during the different periods over it's history. We were fortunate to have a private tour and explanation of the archeological work going on in the center. We did a little shopping in the Jewish Quarter and then back to the hotel to rest before venturing out for dinner.
A great day today! Masada was our first stop after about a 2 1/2 hour bus ride. Some, including me, climbed Masada on the Snake Trail while others took the cable car. It was HOT, but not too bad. Time: 41 min 38 seconds - a new personal best for me! Yes, this was my third time climbing Masada. The views are just fantastic. We wandered around and heard the story and history of the place from our excellent guides. Back down on the cable car and to the buses for our next stop.
The Dead Sea and Herod's Resort, what a treat. Our last group touring found us relaxing at a traditional Dead Sea resort where we slathered each other with mud and then floated in the sea. The minerals rejuvenated our skin as the toxins were pulled from us. After hanging out at the beach or the pool, we had lunch followed by a massage. Then back on the bus for the long ride back to Jerusalem. A great day with renewed vitality and vigor.
Today was a day off from the group touring and before our 3 days of sharing. Tracy and I wanted to see the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Mueseum and word got out that we were headed that way during breakfast. So, upon meeting in the lobby at 9:17, there were 19 people ready for taxis. But wait, the hotel concierge said he could get us a bus. Hmmm, I thought - what else might we do if we got a bus? Turns out it was very cost effective to have a private bus (20 passenger) for the day, so we headed to the museum, followed by a visit to Bethlehem and Jericho. It was a very full day of seeing as much as possible in a short amount of time.
At the museum we headed straight for the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit which has housed in a round building that sort of looks like a top from the outside. Inside, the view was fantistic. It was in the shape of a jar, like the ones that were found in the caves in Quamran (where the scrolls were found). You were in the jar! We saw the scrolls, some of the history, and many other documents that were on display. The room is fantastic - a must see. When you look at the photo's image you are in a round jar and the main scroll is in the center of the room, like a torah, with a handle on the top. Very engenius. Next we wondered over to the large replica of the old city and learned more about the sites and history. Then we elected to see the exhibit of old synagogs that were dismantled and broght here to be on display. There were four from around the world with the various furnishings that showed how it looked in its original location. Very different energy in each one.
Off to Bethlehem where we walked though the Church of Nativity, which is over the cave where Jesus was born. We had a wonderful guide that gave us a great tour of the church followed by the Milk Grotto where Mary nursed Jesus. A quick lunch stop for pita chicken schwarma sandwiches before our trip over to Jericho. In Jericho we went to two sites: the old city (10,000 years old!) where we saw the ruins of many ages (pottery, iron, bronze) all in one site, and Hashim's Palace where the highlight was a fully intact room with the original mosaic of the tree of life which dates back over 1400 years (see the photos). Fantastic. Back on the bus to head back to Jerusalem and our group dinner.
Our first day of sharing starts at 2pm, so we have half a day to sightsee. We opted to go to the Garden Tomb, an alternate site where Jesus may have been crucified and entombed for 3 days. The energy at this site is wonderful, a true garden site. We had a guided tour and explanation from "Ron" - the other Ron who explained the reasoning as to why some consider this a likely location of the events. To me, it doesn't really matter what happened where, just to know the implications of what happened and how we can grow and learn from the lessons. After the tour and going into the tomb, our little group of about 17 had a private area where we called in the light, planted a light column, did some chanting and praying, and basked in the energy. We met up with another group from our tour that arranged to take communion sacrament and a few of us joined them. Then back to the bus and to the hotel for our first day of group sharing. The presence of the spirit was exceptionally strong and all were blessed to have John Morton and John Roger in the house.
Sharing starts today at noon so we have a little time to tour. We opted to go to St. Anne's Monastery on the Via Delarosa which is the birthplace of Mary. When we got there a large group from Texas was in the church belting out hymns. We had the intention to find a quiet spot and call in the light and plant a light column. With this intention we headed straight downstairs to a perfect spot, just big enough for our group of 9. In between hymns from upstairs we did our thing and our voices eventually merged with those from the group upstairs. It was magical! We then viewed the garden and excavation areas before walking back to the hotel. It was a perfect little outing given the time available.
Day two of group sharing started a 12 noon with a wonderful luncheon. By the way, the food at the hotel was great. Breakfast everyday was a feast and lunch and dinner was wonderful. Very healthy with lots of options. We got home last night and this morning I checked my weight - down 4 lbs from when I left! And that was eating 3 meals a day which is not normal for me. All that walking sure helped.
Our last day together started with breakfast followed by an intention to find Tracy a bracelet in the old city. Well, that sorta expanded into a jewelry fest as we found several things she liked (and I did too). In an effort to help the local economy, we made a great new friend at the jewelry store and Tracy now has two matching sets of opals and Eilat stones. Back to the hotel for lunch and our last day of group sharing and a final gala dinner together.
It's been a fantastic trip. Meeting old and new friends, exploring together, holding the light and energy and intent of bringing peace to the area. I think we did a great job and truly believe we accomplished our goals and intentions. At least, for me, I feel whole and complete.
Enjoy the photos and memories. Much love to all.
ron at rtbernstein dot com