Saturday, 28 June 2014

Climb every mountain

With only two full days left of our pilgrimage to the Holy Land in May, we set off for two of the "high points" of our trip (sorry about that). Mount Tabor is about ten or twelve miles west of Tiberias, and rises up like a child's idea of a mountain (below). It's the traditional site of the wonderful event we know as the Transfiguration, and a church sits right on the top, where we have celebrated Mass several times before. Access to the church via about twelve hairpin bends is only via taxi minibuses, whose drivers seemed less anxious to scare the pants off us than some jokers from previous pilgrimages. This time, when we got to the top, we were invited to have Mass outside, in the shady ruins of a previous ancient church. It was beautiful, allowing us to gather at Communion time around the altar. 
The Transfiguration is an image of pilgrimage. For a short while we are perhaps lifted out of our normal life and routine, and experience a little more clearly some of the wonders of our Creator and Redeemer. The veil is pulled apart just a little... and maybe, like Peter at Tabor, we want to "freeze-frame" many of the moments. But no, we have to go back down the mountain and return to Life. Having listened to the Lord, we must now get on with living his words.
Safely grounded we continued westward towards the Mediterranean and the long ridge that is Mount Carmel. Here we made a stop where Elijah beat the priests of Baal in a my-God-is-better-than-yours contest. Here's a real children's book picture of the scene - great stuff.
Unlike on some previous pilgrimages, this time we didn't go on to Elijah's cave overlooking the Med, but headed off for lunch at a Druze restaurant that was bigger and more organized than the small, squashed but rather more charming one we visited last time. The series of dishes once again tempted and tested our palates. Yum.

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