Pilgrims in the Land of the Holy One bask and bathe in sights, sounds, smells and tastes of so much that is unique to the places and people here: vivid Armenian pottery designs; cool church interiors at biblical sites; the unique dress of so many religions and cultures; aromatic Arabic coffee; the sound of church bells mixed with the Muslim call to prayer; markets filled with calling vendors; baskets of spices; tables of fresh vegetables; and the sizzle and smell of fresh kebabs on the grill. So rich, beautiful and unforgettable!
Yet most pilgrims remark that our dark, silent journey before sunrise to the Judean Wilderness, the desert, moved them most. Even in the stark desert, all the senses are stimulated but with a mixture of subtlety and surprise, danger and quiet comfort. This last stretch of rocky terrain greeted the children of the Hebrews coming from their long march from slavery to freedom. Nearby, Joshua crossed the Jordan and also came to the land. There, John the Baptist was
preaching and purifying. Jesus bathed in the Spirit-filled waters and basked in the Father’s loving pleasure. But then he did not immediately head up to busy Jerusalem or the green Galilee. Jesus stayed there, in that rocky wilderness, that desert, to converse with the Divine Heart–to clarify his life’s goals and decisions, to face every demon, dream and doubt before beginning his luminous adult life and work.
What will your baptism mean this spring? What clarity might the desert offer your thinking, planning, and decisions? Do you take in the Spirit in each sight, sound and sense in your daily life? What demons need to be sent home, and what angels will accompany you to the radiance of Easter?
Iyad and Rami Qumri, Qumri Pilgrimages
Appointed lessons for today:
St. John’s pilgrims take in the Judean desert at sunrise (January 2019)