ON the afternoon of November 19, 2010, after 12 days in Dubai (1 day, in-transit), Egypt (3), Israel (5), and Jordan (3), we left Jordan on board an Emirates flight to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, officially ending our Holy Land Pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage have nurtured us spiritually but exhausted us physically.
Looking back, it is very difficult to imagine now how we managed to cope up with the grueling and impossible daily itineraries.
I counted seven hotels over the course of the 12-day trip! And on four of those seven we just stayed in the hotel overnight — arriving as late as 9-10 o’clock in the evening and ready to roll off by 7 o’clock the following day.
Many times during the trip I’ve been asked how a church, or a shrine, or a relic we visited for the day has “touched” me spiritually. I think I disappointed those who asked with my answer, which remained consistent all throughout the trip. We visited too many over too short a time that there was hardly time to meditate on the spiritual relevance of the places we’ve been to.
At the time, the pilgrimage, at least in my personal opinion, was more an intellectual treat than a spiritual refresher.
It was much later, when I was already back home in the Philippines and started organizing the 5,000+ photos that I took during the trip, that I started to appreciate and experience the spiritual nourishment that was the very reason we went to the pilgrimage.
Isn’t it ironic that we go through so much trouble and spend so much to see with our own eyes the places where the very basis of our faith originated? And to what end? To see, and to know, and to feel that He is real? But He IS real! He is real now as He was real two thousand years ago. He is real right in our very own hearts as he was real in those places.
My greatest spiritual lesson from our Holy Land Pilgrimage is that I didn’t need to go to the Holy Land to experience His presence.
Nevertheless, I still am glad that I went.