Pilgrims on a Journey: Wake Div goes to Israel
As we rang in the New Year, thirteen divinity and undergraduate students from Wake, along with faculty, staff, and friends journeyed to the Holy Lands for two weeks on an interfaith pilgrimage. As Jews, Muslims, and Christians we desired to travel together and learn about each others’ faiths and our interrelatedness.
Throughout the trip I found myself singing the lyrics to “The Servant Song.” Unfortunately I could only remember the line we are pilgrims on a journey. Upon return I googled the lyrics. To my surprise, this beautiful hymn told a story very similar to our pilgrimage. As sisters and brothers, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian, we had the chance to serve one another. We not only patched torn clothing, bandaged scraped knees, and rubbed sore shoulders, we listened to each other’s faith stories, hopes and struggles.
The road we journeyed along started in Haifa visiting Elijah’s caves, the beautiful Baha’i Gardens, and the ancient city of Akko. Next we moved inland to the Sea of Galilee, tracing the steps of Jesus Christ during his ministry, and viewing the tombs of great Jewish heroes. From Galilee we traversed through Megiddo and Caesarea Maritima to Jerusalem. While in Jerusalem our path led us out of the city to the West Bank, Bethlehem, Masada, and the Dead Sea. In the city we hiked up the Mount of Olives, wandered along the Via Delarosa, and got lost within the walls of the Old City.
We experienced times of physical darkness, such as when we were walking down the dark, slippery tunnel at Megiddo and the metaphorical darkness when visiting the refugee camp, Yad Vashem, and Gethsemane. Tears were shed for the injustice, suffering, and divisions present in the land. Laughter and smiles were shared as we floated and splashed in the Dead Sea, fellowshipped together in the evenings, and finally returned home.
In reflecting on the trip as a whole I must borrow Harvey Cox and Donald Nicholl’s idea that the Holy Lands are a testing place for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Cox emphasizes the significance of the story of Abraham and Isaac for all three faiths writing, “God showed us that there had been enough human sacrifice. It was now time for Abraham and Isaac to move toward the fulfillment of the divine promise that through them and their seed, all the clans of the earth would be blessed.” As pilgrims we are love to one another, teaching, preaching, and sharing together. When we sing to God in heaven, I earnestly hope we shall find such harmony as Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the Holy Lands and throughout the world.
Throughout their travels, students blogged about their experiences and posted pictures. Check out more on the travel blog.