Henry Goes to Israel – Day One

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January 13, 2015

Just in case you wondered, it takes over nine hours to fly from Newark to Tel Aviv. To pass the time, I read, slept, watched a movie and talked with people.  I got fed twice, which was great!  I don’t know what the thing was that they fed me at breakfast, though.  It looked like food, so I ate it, but I truly do NOT know what it was.  I asked the flight attendant for decaf coffee, and she told me that I wouldn’t want it.  She said, “It’s ugly!  No one has ever finished a cup of it.”  So, I stuck with juice and water.

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Reading on the plane to Tel Aviv – a story from home

After we landed, all the Pilgrims in our group collected our bags and gathered together before getting on a private bus going to the area of Galilee.

Gathering in Tel Aviv Airport.

Gathering in Tel Aviv Airport.

First, though, we stopped at a restaurant called “Sahara,” just south of Mt. Tabor, which is also known as the Mount of the Transfiguration.  At the Sahara, we were treated to fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the fertile valleys of the area.  It was wonderful, and the people were very nice. I got the chance to meet some of the people in our group that I didn’t know before.

Lunch with new friend, Beth, from Arizona

Lunch with new friend, Beth, from Arizona

Mt. Tabor Rising from the Plain of Jezreel

Mt. Tabor Rising from the Plain of Jezreel

After lunch, our big bus parked at the foot of Mt. Tabor, and our group got into lots of little vans that took us to the summit.  Only little vans and cars can negotiate the narrow, winding road to the top. Traditionally, Mt. Tabor is the location that the Christian community commemorates the event when the apostles had a vision of Jesus talking with Moses and the prophet Isaiah,  when a bright cloud came over them and a voice out of the cloud said “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

Mosaic of Transfiguration of Jesus above the altar in the Church of the Transfiguration

Mosaic of Transfiguration of Jesus above the altar in the Church of the Transfiguration

Mt. Tabor is located in Lower Gaillee at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley, 11 miles west of the Sea of Galilee.

Church of the Transfiguration

Church of the Transfiguration

Between 1919 until 1924 an impressive Roman Catholic church of the Franciscan order named “Church of the Transfiguration”  was built on the peak of Mount Tabor. The church was built on the ruins of a Byzantine church from the fifth or sixth century and a Crusader church from the 12th century,

Elijah Chapel

Elijah Chapel

Chapel of Moses

Chapel of Moses

The church was built from three naves (vaults). In the two bell towers on either side of the entrance to the building, there are two chapels.  The northern chapel (on the left) is dedicated to Moses and it contains (above the doorway) a painting of him getting the stone tablets on Mount Sinai, and the southern chapel (on the right) is dedicated to the prophet Elijah and contains (above the doorway) a painting of him in his confrontation with prophets from a competing religion (Ba’all) prophets, which tradition says happened on Mt. Carmel.

On the upper part of the church, above the altar, there is a mosaic of the Transfiguration.

Closer View of Mosaic Above the Altar

Closer View of Mosaic Above the Altar

Our group of pilgrims was very lucky to have the chance to have a communion service in the chapel of Moses.  My new friend, Barry (The Rev. Barry Beisner, bishop of Northern California), presided at the service.

Eucharist in the Moses Chapel, The Rt. Rev. Barry Beisner, presiding

Eucharist in the Moses Chapel, The Rt. Rev. Barry Beisner, presiding

After we all got back down the mountain and back on the bus, we went to a little town called Tabgha, located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. The name means “seven springs” and is traditionally associated with the Gospel story of the multiplication of loaves and fishes (…you remember, two fish and five loaves were multiplied enough to feed 5000 people…I would have preferred 5000 doggy snacks, myself!).  We will get to see that site in a couple of days, but on this day we arrived there to settle into the guest house where we will be staying for three nights.

Sign of the Pilgrim House Where We Are Staying

Sign of the Pilgrim House Where We Are Staying

Our Bus, Our Guide (Guston), and the Pilgrim House in Tabgha

Our Bus, Our Guide (Ghassan), and the Pilgrim House in Tabgha

Our Pilgrim group met together to share more about each other before going to dinner at the guest house.  There was yummy eggplant, humus, veggies and potatoes…at least, that’s what Rachel ate. But there was lamb and chicken for us meat eating doggies!

The current church is built over ruins of an earlier church in the same location

The current Church of the Transfiguration is built over ruins of an earlier church in the same location

After dinner, we went into the chapel and said the prayer service of Compline, the last prayer service before bedtime. Before and after our service, our friend from England, Dominic, played recordings of a beautiful monastic choir. We just sat quietly and listened.  It was a wonderful first day, and I was so tired that when I went to bed, I went right to sleep!

My room at the Pilgrim House

My room at the Pilgrim House

It took a while to load the pictures on the slow internet here. There’s wifi On The bus, though, as well as at The Pilgrim House. I am loading the pictures in moments in between stops and at breaks. I don’t mind – I want you see all the places I am! I just wish I could show you Israel in Smell-a-Vision, the way I’m experiencing it. I smell oranges and lemon trees, spices of cardamon and cinnamon, dry dust in the ruins and fresh water on the breezes blowing across the waters of the Sea of Galilee,  where the Pilgrim House is very near it’s western shore.

I can’t wait to share Nazareth and Cana with you – those are tomorrow!

Here’s to barking at squirrels!

Henry

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Henry Visits the Church of the Transfiguration

Henry Goes to the Holy Land – Travel Day!

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January 12, 2015

Hello! My name is Henry, and I’m a small stuffed dog handmade by a nice lady called Marie Bond. Mrs. Bond modeled me after a real dachshund called Henry that owns a woman named Rachel – the same woman who hosts this blog.

As the guest columnist for the next ten days, I suppose you could call me the guest dogger!

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This is Henry, the dog I’m modeled after. Isn’t he handsome? 

And here's me - hanging out with my pack. That's Toby the collie - he's a really nice dog!

And here’s me – hanging out with my pack. That’s Toby the collie – he’s a really nice dog!

I live in the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia (Western Washington), and our bishop, The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, is co-leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Israel and Palestine) with the bishop of Northern California, The Rt. Rev. Barry Beisner. We will be joined by more folks coming from Arizona.

Sometimes, the hardest part of traveling is the traveling itself. Late last night, I flew on a plane all the way across the country, from Seattle to Newark – From the west coast to the east coast. It took a little over four hours.

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Here I am in the Seattle airport….

And here I am at the Newark airport!

And here I am at the Newark airport!

Don't you just love the R2D2 roller bag? I think that all aspects of travel should be fun - even the luggage.

Don’t you just love the R2D2 roller bag? I think that all aspects of travel should be fun – even the luggage.

The most important part of traveling happened before I even got on a plane, and that was the packing! The farther I travel, the less I want to carry. So, I packed only carry on luggage for this trip…including leaving just enough space for me!

Later today I will get on another plane to Tel Aviv, Israel. About an hour before we leave, our group will all gather for the first time at our departure gate. I’m hoping that traveling with bishops will get me special access to squirrels, but – actually- I’m not even sure if there are any squirrels in Israel. I guess I’ll find out when I get there…

I love traveling, meeting new people and having adventures. Mostly, I love learning new things. This trip should be especially interesting, (Wish me luck with the squirrels!)

I will write next when we have arrived at our first stop – The north coast of the sea of Galilee. After we arrive in Tel Aviv, we will take a bus there. Let me know if you have any questions for me during my pilgrimage to the Holy Land through the comment section to each posting.  If I don’t know the answer, I will try to find out for you.

Here’s to barking at squirrels!

Henry