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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

HOLY LAND PILGRIMAGE - Day 7: Golan Heights, Mount Hermon, Caesarea Philippi and a celebration of creation

  Tuesday  Day 6 - 21/5- with apologies for the somewhat curious punctuation left behind from writing this while in Israel and which so far I haven't been able to alter

We set out from Galilee, 213 metres below sea level and head for the Golan Heights. First we see that Galilee is very full which is evidenced by trees on the shore being submerged up to their foliage - and from a distance they look to be sizeable trees. Saeed regards this as good news as Galilee is effectively the major reservoir for much of the country. We are climbing for a long time and notice that although uncultivated land is green scrubland, there is a considerable amount of horticulture for a long way up into the hills. The distant views are spectacular in all directions and every now and then we are accompanied by flocks of 20/30 egrets or small herons, none of them affected by the border issues that we will note as the day wears on.

Our destination is Mount Bental, well to the North of the country in the Golan Heights where we look in one direction to the Syrian border and in another across to Mount Hermon. Here, amidst a collection of sculptures fabricated from weapons that a have been destroyed, we reflect on the  Transfiguration, The Bishop speaks of Peter's need to domesticate the moment of glory in the presence of the principal characters of salvation history by building booths! The booths on 'our' viewpoint were to mark a war and the bullet holes, twisted metal and silhouettes of armed men take one again to the likelihood of Jesus continuing to weep over his land.

It 's a downhill run to Caesarea Phillipi and we are reminded by troops and military personnel on some sort of exercise that we are in a country that is still on a war footing (Later in the day we hear that Syria claims to have destroyed a military vehicle that strayed across the border near where we were but Israel tells a far more anodyne story of a car being fired on with no-one hurt). On arrival at Caesarea Philippi, I get embroiled in a conversation with some Israeli youths about football as soon as they heard we were from England. I managed to shift the conversation to where each if us came from: they would have liked us to come from Manchester, Liverpool, Tottenham or Chelsea but Cambridge was a mystery to them. They could not believe I didn't know the names of any footballers at all, at which point I was of no further interest to them.

Our purpose in Caesarea Philipi was two-fold. First we reflected on Peter's great recognition of who Jesus truly was and then renewed our Baptismal vows, being signed and Anointed with water from a tributary of the Jordan which flowed out from the rock face in several different places to merge into a delightful foliage-flanked river running beside a host of columns and artefacts from the ancient township where Pan was worshipped a long time before the encounter between Peter and Jesus. The modern name of Banias reflects the Palestinian difficulty in pronouncing a 'P'

As we make our way to lunch in a hotel Which has grown out of an early Kibbutz, our attentIon is drawn to an isolated village in the hills which has the unenviable situation of lying on the spot where Israel, Lebanon and Syria meet - and no-one will take responsibility for providing it with any services. In a very poignant way it is a reminder of just how unimportant individuals become when States are at enmity.

Also in the distant hills is the remnant of the Nimrud Crusader Castle. The history was lengthy but in essence boiled down to abandonment because the fortification was too far from supply lines.

Last visit of the day was to the Huleh Nature Reserve. First we had a 3D film showing the importance of this reclaimed wetland to a deal of wildlife but especially to birds migrating both south and north in spring and autumn. The seats in the theatre moved, throbbed, blew mist and air and even sprayed water to add to the 3D effect. The emulation of a rat running up the leg was unnerving. We then walked the swamp walk seeing swamp turtles, large catfish and an aquatic creature that might have been an otter or a beaver but turned out to be a coypu, as far as I could ascertain from the warden. Introduced for their fur (a project unlikely to succeed in a very hot country) they had become a nuisance by damaging watercourses and eating important plant roots. 

There were enough birds to interest the ornithologists among us but obviously nothing like the migration populations which must be wonderful to witness. The idea of putting this visit into the
itinerary was to celebrate the wonders of creation.

 ,You will find a short poem 
about our experience on Mount Bental in the Golan Heights at Transfiguration 

 Military  'leftovers' turned to sculptures


Renewing Baptism vows at Caeseraea Philippi

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe
It is currently thought that the Universe has at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! Hence the use of the word ‘scintilla’ for a mere ten thousand billion.

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)
Cross and Particle Accelerator. The words of 'A Prayer for Understanding' can be viewed by clicking on this image

Nebula (Embroidery)

Nebula (Embroidery)
Nebula (Embroidery) to accompany the poem 'Invitation' which can be found by clicking on the image.

Orange Galaxy

Orange Galaxy
'Orange Galaxy' posted to accompany 'Bounded and Boundless'. Go to the poem by clicking on the image.

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower
Cosmic Icon 7 - Summerflower Nebula (Acrylic)

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth
Cosmic Ikon 8: Moth Nebula(imagined-acrylic) The Gold field of deep space is intended to convey the Lordship of Christ over the whole of the Cosmos

Surprise garden rose (Photo)

Surprise garden rose (Photo)
This beautiful head of roses in our garden, which are giving off a delightful perfume in the morning sun, seems a fitting picture to link to the sonnet 'Evolution and Beauty'. Let the picture take you there. It is a surprise because it is growing high on a bush of otherwise pure yellow roses: amazing!

Cross and Vortex

Cross and Vortex
'Cross and Vortex' to accompany 'Stars and Planets Sing Your Glory'. Click on the image to go to the poem/hymn.

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)
Gaseous Cosmic Threads: Mixed media - acrylics and painted threads

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)
Warm Umbrian Hills: Click image to take you to the poem St Francis' Sky

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)
'Cosmic Labyrinth' - This icon is a symbol of the path through the near reaches of the Cosmos with its 'Havens' where current advances in science (2012/13) are celebrated. By clicking on the picture you will be taken to the latest version of the poem of the same name.

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)
Time, perhaps to consider a restorative break before the approach of Advent/ Christmas. Let this image take you to 'On Drawing Apart'.

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)
On the South shore of Iona is a bay which shows the industrial scarring of a beautiful place. Read of it by clicking on the picture

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)
The Imaginary Butterfly Nebula . Anything like this would be a real Curiosity! The image will link you to the reflection titled 'Curiosity' which is actually a celebration of the achievement of landing the Mars Rover of that name

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)
'Light of the world' posted to accompany 'To Light'. Find the poem by clicking on the image.

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)
Iona from Fionnphort. At this point of the Isle of Mull, the end of a pilgrimage or trip to Iona is in sight. Click on this picture to take you to the poem 'IONA - The Pilgrim Way'

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)
Cross and simple prayer rope: make one like this to use as an aid to using ‘The Jesus Prayer'