Friday, February 23, 2018

Caesarea Maritima

The book of Acts, Chapter 12 has especial meaning to me.  My spiritual director read it to me during our first session.  The chains dropped off Peter.  There were parts of my life that made me relate to that story.  It brings tears to my eyes.  I work every day to walk in freedom like Peter.  To walk for the Lord.

Sonia, our guide, periodically had us open our Bibles and read scripture.  That day, at the first place we stopped, the first scripture she had us read was Acts Chapter 12.  God was speaking to me, directly to me.  It was good that I had come there to the Holyland, to Caesarea Maritima.

Caesarea Maritima is a National Park.  There was a little film taking us back in history.  Caesarea was a palace, city built by Herod, the Great, who according to our guide every single time she said his name, she said, who was not so great.  Herod had a palace built over the Sea.  Think about it.  This palace has been here over 2000 years.

I can't really see much from this model photograph, but it does remind me of the lay out of the place.
The picture below was what remains of the prison, court complex.  This is where Paul was held before being sent to Rome as a Roman citizen to be tried there. The Apostle Paul was there.
More of the city, of the palace as it stands today.
More buildings.
There was a well preserved stadium.
There were columns from what is thought to be temples to Roman gods.
Birds live in Herod's palace today.
This is a copy of a stone found here with Pilate's name on it.
Our guide asked for volunteers to sit on some seats near the hippodrome.
She asked us to guess what they were for. 
This is the hippodrome.
Herod's palace is washing into the sea.  This Caesarea is where one of the King Herods died.  Read Acts, chapter 12.
Love the blue of the Mediterranean Sea
Those old Romans knew how to stack up the stones so they would last.  This is seating of the hippodrome.

Soon, we loaded up into our bus and headed inland toward Galilee where we would spend the night.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Tel Aviv

On January 13, 2018 our pilgrimage group arrived in Te Aviv.  We loaded up on the bus with Maher our driver and Sonia our guide and drove into the the gathering gloom of winter rush hour in Tel Aviv.  Tel Aviv looked like any other big city.  Lots of building going on.  Our guide says that there is a shortage of places to live.

The sun was setting as we headed out of town and up the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It is always fun to see the foreign equivalents of the name brands like McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and KYFried Chicken, but we drove on.  

The rain cleared up.  Rush hour looked like any road in any city in the world.  No camels or donkeys on the highway.
We were boked into a Ramada Inn up the coast.  I had a room with a balcony.  Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

This was the view off the balcony in the morning.
And the view as we loaded into the bus to move on for the day.  We were not staying a second night at this hotel.
These were some curious birds.  Maybe ordinary grackels?  Maybe some exotic israeli birds.

So, on Thursday, January 14th our pilgrimage took off to encounter the Lord and to see the Bible in living color.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Arriving in Israel

It took a couple of days of travel to get to Israel, time changes, layvers, pat downs in Frankfurt.  I can't explain it.  That is just the way it was. I left on a Tuesday morning, Jan. 12th,  arrived on a Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 13th.  And it was raining when I arrived in Tel Aviv.  A blessing in a dry land.  Customs went really fast, we were loaded onto a bus a off we went through the afternoon rush hour traffic in Tel Aviv.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Pause

Sorry, I was all set to begin my Holy Land telling when I came down with the creeping crud.  After 2 rounds of antibiotics I am feeling semi-better and hoping to begin the journey to Israel on the blog soon.  I was looking at the photos today and anxious to get started with the story. 

But, tonight I have a thing to go to that starts with Adoration, so stories of the Holy Land will have to wait.  I just wanted to check in and say, I think I am still alive and staying that way, even though for a while I was in doubt about that......(exaggeration, I am given to exaggeration.....)  And I haven't forgotten you....

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Pilgrimage Begins

At around 60 years old I found myself seeing an oncologist and thinking my life had slipped away.  I had sorrow and regret which surprised me because I would have said that I believed in celebrating everyday and treating each day as a gift.  It can to me that there were things I wanted to do, ways I wanted to live that I had completely ignored.  One of those things was a lifelong desire to visit the Holyland.

Life got in the way.  I recovered from the cancer.  I try not to think about it these days. I changed around my life and retired. I am way closer to 65 than 60 these days. One of the first things on my to do list as a retiree was revival of that dream to walk where Jesus walked.  The parish I was joining had a pilgrimage coming up.  I wouldn't be alone, I would be with future friends.  I would be going with a priest who knew my name.  So, I signed up.  It seemed too good to be true.  It seemed like a miracle.

I don't know if I really completely believed it would happen.  I prepared, but I held my breath.  Without the support of my spiritual director, my siblings, and my friends I probably wouldn't have gone.  I developed an eye problem that concerns me, but it didn't stop me from going.

Anyway, on January 12th I drove over to the church and caught a ride to the airport and with 33 of my closest friends, began the journey of a lifetime.  We flew to Chicago.  The flight was delayed, so we had to hurry to the next gate to catch the flight to Frankfurt.  We made it.  On my way for the pilgrimage of my dreams.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What Would Jesus Do?

I have never really liked the slogan "What would Jesus do?" I mean, how am I supposed to know what Jesus would do?  And how is that slogan relevant?  But, lately I have had dealings with people who have annoyed me.  They have practiced what to me seems like irresponsible behavior.  I have ended up picking up the slack for them, fixing it.

You might ask, why do I need to fix it?  Because people I care about would be hurt by the persons who let them down.  Because it was possible for me to try to fix it.  I am in the middle of one of the fixes now and we shall see if I am too late to impact things for the good.

I live alone these days and I like alone.  But, I still have to have contact, relations, activities with others, and sometimes these people don't live up to my standards.  I find I want to tell them off or talk about them to others and say the exact nature of their wrongs.  But, it really wouldn't change them.  It really wouldn't fix the current problem.  So, I am avoiding that, the talking to or about them. Except here, I suppose.

I was looking for a slogan to help me deal with me on this upset I feel about the current situation.  The serenity prayer was one such slogan that helped.  But, ultimately, I decided that "What would Jesus do?" was just right.  Do things in love.  Don't criticize or gossip.  Do things in love.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


I have returned home from my pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I intend to retell the trip with pictures, but I am jet lagged and catching up on things, so I will check in here until I am ready to give the travelogue.

I have to say that I recommend pilgrimages versus sightseeing trips.  Having 2 priests with us enabled us to have Mass every day and celebrate in some very special places.  Almost everyone worked on friendliness and patience with each other, which would probably not have been true on a purely tourist trip. We had quite and assortment of pilgrims.

I loved it all.  Personally, I would have done less and spent more time in some of the places.  But, that is life, you can't hold onto moments.  Time passes and things change.  Run, run, run.  That is what it is all about, life.  And before you know it, you are done.

I need to re-read Canterbury Tales.  I kept remembering parts of that tale all during the trip.  I am trying to unpack and get back into life.  I have a little eye procedure scheduled in a couple of weeks.  So, I have to get ready for that. 

But, I do intend to tell the tale of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, so that I have the memory and so that I can share it with you.

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Lent begins on St Valentine's Day and ends (if you count Easter as the end, which it really isn't but humor me) on April Fools Day this year. I am not a spring holiday's person in terms of Valentines or Fools, but it is interesting to note this occurrence.

I have been told that coming back from the Holy Land and then soon going into Lent will bring it all to life.  I am planning on that.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

New Old Me

In sme ways I am a rock, a rock head, solid.  In some ways I know right from wrong and up from down.  I don't choose wrong, mostly.  I struggle sometimes to figure out the right, but I seek help and I am getting better at that.  And for a large portion of my life I thought that was enough.  I just shouldn't do wrong.  When faced with a dilema I did nothing.  If I couldn't do nothing I ran or hid or tried to be invisible.  And I tried to save people, to help whether they asked me or not.

I have concluded that there is nothing wrong with doing no wrong, but doing right is better.  And doing right is not trying to save people from themselves or helping when I am not asked.  Doing right is a little risky because there is less control of the situation.  And to do right, I have to actually do something, not isolate, not be invisible.

But, it was lately called to my attention that God doesn't need me to try to fix the world and its people. I can't do it no matter how hard I try.  I was given life to live.  That is a concept, to live.  To figure out what gives me joy and makes me whole.  To be holy doing those things.  I am called to love and joy not right or wrong. To joy.  And I am seeking my joy.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Losing Things, Finding Things

Getting ready for the trip I have had a lot of things to find.  Everything from spare car keys to hand sanitizer.  Some of it I find readily, and some things elude me.  So, I pray.  I lean heavily on the prayers of St. Anthony.  He is probably tired of me by now. I know that I am tired of looking for things.

The root causes of my random wanderings and pawing through boxes is that I am not a terribly organized person.  I am a bit spacey and I keep too many things, slightly short of being a hoarder.  Add to that my moving 3 times in three years, retiring from teaching, moving my mom twice and storing her stuff, and not quite being completely settled in this "new" house.

But as I searched high and low for the lost car key, it occurred to me that losing things and finding them is not a new phenomenon. The lost coin and the lost sheep in the Bible are two parables that people back then and today could and can relate to because everybody is looking for something as some song says....

I found the car key and the hand sanitizer and the million other things I was looking for.  The things I forget, I will do without or replace.  The point isn't how I dress or even how I smell, but the things I see and feel and do on the trip.  I am trying to learn to pack lighter.  Less things to lose.