We got home from the Holy Land about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and I can only speak for myself. My brain was mush and it took me until today to really begin to shed the jet lag. I was out and about yesterday but I was very emotional at church and felt like I was wrapped in cotton batten.
Our 12 days in the Holy Land was a life-changing experience for me, but I'm glad I didn't wait much longer to make the trip. It was physically a stretch for me and I don't know how much longer I'll have the oomph to make a 19 hour flight each way.
Before I say much else, I want to reiterate that Israel is a safe place to visit and if you are planning to visit the Holy Land, don't be afraid. Because of the political mess in the middle east, Israel's tourism is beginning to feel the effects and this is sad. For most people around the world, it's a once in a lifetime visit. Don't miss seeing this beautiful country out of fear. I was fearful before we left but quickly felt comfortable.
People ask what the high point for me was and I have to say that I can't pinpoint it. I loved the Galilee/Nazareth area and learning about Jesus's life and ministry before the really bad stuff started happening to him. Jerusalem itself is amazing, but I felt weighted down there in comparison to Galilee. Each site we visited in the Holy City marked the final week of Jesus's life and I have not been one to focus on the end.
Today I'm going to share a few photos with you of Caesarea, the very beginning of our trip.
This photo of the Mediterranean and the restored Crusader city of Caesarea is one of my favorites.
It was constructed by Herod in 20 B.C. on the site of the Phoenician anchorage of Straton's Tower and named for Augustus Caesar. For 600 years Caesarea was the capital of the Roman province of Judea and official residence of its governors, including Pontius Pilate.
The day we visited was rainy and very windy and it was the first time I had ever seen blowing sand that actually affected my vision and covered us with sand granules. Sand continued to wash away with showers, but I'd feel grit every now and then even after we reached Jerusalem.
This is the site where Peter came to understand that the Good News was not for Jews only, but for the whole world. Here he baptized the Roman Centurion Cornelius and his family. Later Paul would be imprisoned here before he was taken to Rome for trial and execution.
After a bitter struggle, Caesarea fell to the Persians in 646 but they kept it well. Under the Crusaders it was built as a citadel town of some 50 acres. I took at least a dozen photos here, but if you are interested in the history, you can click the link above or Google it.
All I know with hindsight is that this was where our pilgrimage to the Holy Land officially began and where I began to feel somehow connected to what I was seeing in a way I've never felt before in my foreign travels.
Over the next days, as my energy returns and I go back to work, I'll try to fit in photos and some history and feelings when I can.