“The role of a pilgrim is to share their experience with their community.” This has been told to me many times in the past year. The only issue with this is that I have no idea where to start when people ask about my journey through the Holy Land.
I have been back on Canadian soil for over four months and when anyone asks about my journey I tell them, “It was very eye-opening” or “I had so much fun. I learned lots and met many amazing people.” Sometimes it feels like I am letting the people of Palestine and Israel down by not knowing how to share my experiences or the stories they told. I joke that I have seen too many churches and holy sites to count, and things get all muddled up in my mind. The reality of it is, however, that everything is so crystal clear in my memory that it is overwhelming and I do not know where to start when people ask.
I want to tell people of the fear I felt when our tour bus was stopped and soldiers came aboard asking to see our passports and visas. I pulled out my passport and realized that my visa must have slipped out when I transferred my passport from my fanny pack to my backpack. I sat on that bus with my heart beating a mile a minute, panicking that I would get myself or worse, our entire group into trouble. Luckily the soldier just glanced at me and walked past, that did not stop me from breaking down that night though.
I want to tell people of the stunning views as we walked down the Mount of Olives into the Old City of Jerusalem. The beauty cannot be encompassed in words and the pictures I took do not do it justice. Trying to describe the way the sun peered through the leaves of the olive trees in the garden of Gethsemane is impossible. I was surprised, paradoxical, to find beauty in the garden where I knew Jesus was in agony and was captured before his crucifixion.
I desperately want to tell people of the experience of visiting Ramallah, the Palestinian capital. This day is one that I struggle to put into any cohesive words. Walking through the museum, reading about the history of violence and slaughter was an experience I will never forget. Being allowed to listen to the Representative of Canada to the Palestinian Authority speak to us and answer our questions about Canada’s relationship with Palestine was both heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. Being allowed to walk in the streets of Ramallah and just “be” for a moment in the land of our Arab Christian brothers and sisters in Christ, was a moment that can never be taken away from me.
“The role of a pilgrim is to share their experience with their community” not only in words but in action. This journey has pushed me to take on new roles in the Church: to educate myself on how we function and live together in Christ. This has been a huge part of my calling and I can not thank Bishop Lynne, Dean David and my community enough for the opportunity to strengthen my love and understanding. I believe we are all pilgrims on our own journeys and mine has just led me on the most incredible journey to understanding and love.