“Pinch Yourself”, he said, “you are here!”
And there we were, sitting in an amphitheater at the ruins of Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean Sea.
We were actually there.
The whole thing started about a year ago in 2021. Silly of me to think that the whole pandemic was about over, and it would be safe to start traveling again. We received the email announcing a tour to Israel and it was definitely on our bucket list and the group sponsoring the tour was a great one….and, they were adding a side visit to Egypt…you know, the Pyramids thrown in to boot. It would be once in a lifetime, wouldn’t it? We were not getting any younger. How could we pass it up? So, we talked about it, weighed the risks, and decided to go for it. It was time. We registered for the tour online, got a “welcome to the tour” response and were on our way. Right?
Well, not so fast. It was still a year away and there would be many problems to solve in that time. There would be months of decisions, payments, insurance, schedules, bookings, flights, more than a few concerns about geo-political issues in the Holy Land, updates to passports, meeting Covid requirements for shots and more shots and then booster shots, and just way too many Covid variants popping up that would possibly throw a monkey wrench into all our best laid plans.
But the day finally arrived. It had been touch & go with Israel all through January – one day closed to tourists and then opening again just in time in early February. I fretted over that last minute Covid test. What if it came back positive? With only forty-eight hours until flight time, there’d be no time to wait a day or so and take the test again. It didn’t matter that I’d already had Covid and was vaccinated up to the hilt. I still worried. (Yes, I’m quite the fretter.) The tests came back negative for both of us. But I was still a bit nervous even after we boarded the plane at Baltimore and were on our way…. after all, there was one more test to worry about in Israel when we actually arrived in Tel Aviv.
The flight was long and exhausting. The tour group representative was there to gather us all together and navigate us through but, clearing the airport and customs in Israel and getting that final Covid test was tedious and time-consuming.
I was so glad when that part was over, and we were on the bus and headed to the hotel in Natanya which turned out to be beautiful, by the way, but I was just too tired to appreciate it.
I was in the Holy Land where I’d dreamed of being but all I wanted was a bed with soft pillows and a bathroom that was bigger than a phone booth.
Morning came way too early, and we were back on the bus and headed out for Caesarea. After the cold damp dreary winter we’d been having in Maryland, the sunshine was so bright as it reflected off the yellow tan sandstone of the ruins, but no one was complaining.
That sunshine was warm and soothing where we sat in the amphitheater overlooking the Mediterranean. I was still tired but excited and trying to just soak up everything when the worship team, Richard and Gina, began to sing, “We will walk where Jesus walked”1. I felt myself relax and, as they moved on to Blessed Assurance” 2, I began to sing along….
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
This is my story…
We were there
in the Holy Land.
I took a deep breath,
and pinched myself.
Notes & Sources with links:
- Walk Where Jesus Walked, Writer Unknown
- Blessed Assurance, Lyrics by Fanny Crosby; Music by Phoebe Knapp, Published 1873.