On the eve day of our flight home, I am having some luxurious time to myself while my 3 traveling companions go to Jerusalem to buy last minute gifts and have lunch. I stayed back to pack, think about Sunday's sermon and prepare myself (plus prevent myself from spending more money on gifts!) for the journey back to the Bay Area from Tel Aviv to JFK to SFO to Concord.
I have both a heavy heart to be leaving the places that have made an imprint on my soul, while at the same time a light-hearted longing to be reunited with my family, friends and church. I recognize that I have been changed by all the things that we have seen, but much more than that, by the varieties of people we have met and observed. Our pilgrimage has been marked by laughter, food, frustration and getting lost a few times. There have been stones, valley, mountains, rivers, seas and churches, lots and lots of churches. We have experienced numerous check points, walls that divide, walls for prayer, ancient walls and invisible walls. We have wondered at the hospitality extended to 4 bumbling US Presbyterian women pastors - sometimes an odd sight and often a minority.
I am certain I will never read a passage from any scripture in the same way as I did before coming into this land. I am still musing on what is holy, what is just and what is right. My head is filled with as many pictures as the 1500 or so that I actually took. My heart is overflowing with compassion, gratitude, and faith sprinkled with some anger and bemusement.
As my bags are nearly packed and I know that I will be making the long journey back to SFO tomorrow, I am also quite aware that I am not leaving nor is what I have done, where I have been or who I have seen, leaving me. It's the great thing about faithful pilgrimage, it stays with you forever and with any good fortune, I can stay in it for a very long time.
Peace, Shalom, La Paz, Der Frieden, Pace, Pax and Salaam!