I’ve been back on American soil for awhile now, friends, and dirt has never looked so beautiful.
Israel was wonderful, thank you for asking, and I loved nearly every moment of the trip. (There was a day or two towards the end there that my stomach decided it no longer liked being a part of Kelly McAvoy’s body). But we won’t talk about that.
I’ve been putting off writing this post because (I lost my laptop charger and) I have no clue how to sum up everything I experienced.
There were the vendors selling anything they could, in places they shouldn’t be. (It doesn’t matter if I need an emergency surgery, I don’t want a doctor setting up shop in the Garden of Gethsemane).
The sadness I saw in the homeless population’s eyes was just the same as I saw back in Chicago. It struck me that the shopkeepers, businessmen, and restaurant owners were much, much more persistent and pushy than the beggars.
There were people jet skiing on the Sea of Galilee, but I guess if I had something like that in my backyard, I would too. If I knew how to jet ski.
Muslim women walked the streets alone, looking so unlike the poor, mistreated, and submissive women we often stereotype each one of them as. Talking on cell phones and wearing hot pink leggings, seeing them made me realize that you should take any opportunity you can to experience a culture firsthand.
Israel was beauty, sunshine, paradise, ruins, nature, tradition, religious, secular, and in a way different than I have seen in the states, thriving. Experience a little for yourself.
One thing I learned is that there is no “Calvary hill,” because the Bible never uses the word “hill.” There is only a skull-like shape (Golgotha) in the side of a relatively small cliff. No Christian can, or probably ever will be, able to go on top of it, because it has been a site for Muslims for the past 1700 years.
While visiting Golgotha and the garden that houses Jesus’ tomb, a mother and daughter from our group went to the entrance of the tomb and posed for a picture, smiling identical smiles. Why are they smiling? I thought to myself, unsure of whether it was disrespectful, or even if it made sense. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.
Jesus was beaten, bloodied, and forced to carry his own cross. He was wounded. He was mocked. His body was hung between two crosses bearing common criminals. And then, in front of the triumphant smiles of so many, he died. He died! Jesus—the man whom the Jews thought would be their strong, undefeatable king—had been overcome by nails in his flesh and the power of gravity.
I think if that’s all that had happened, it would definitely be disrespectful to take a picture smiling in front of his tomb. But the most important part comes next.
Jesus took exactly the amount of time he wanted to take, then reappeared on this earth. Not as a memory, not as a ghost, not as a hallucination, but as a living, breathing man once again. And as simple as that, death fell. Death fell, because he rose. No matter what Israel has been, is, or becomes, it will always be where death was defeated. And that, my friends, is something to smile about.