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Mount of Beatitudes

February 21, 2011

Going back to Saturday for a minute…can you get a sense of just how much we’re cramming into one day?  I’ll catch up eventually.

The Mount of the Beatitudes may have been the highlight of the trip.  We began at the top of the hill where…wait for it…they built a church. After hearing Rob reading Matthew 5:1-12 we were actually given time to wander around, explore the inside and out, and take it all in.

Inside was a small simple chapel in the round with an altar in the middle and each of the Beatitudes in stained glass around the top. I took a moment to simply kneel and listen.  There were other groups all around, and in the distance you could hear the sounds of singing, sometimes even a guitar playing softly.

The balcony around the chapel had a magnificent view from every angle, overlooking the edge of the mountain and down into the Sea of Galilee.  I can understand why this area is called the land of milk and honey, because the landscape is more beautiful than I could’ve imagined.  The rolling mountains are covered in lush greenery and flowers.

Walking through the paths I saw other groups having chapel services, which has become a theme this trip.  Almost everywhere we go someone is blessing the Eucharist.  Wandering in and out of various settings the singing takes on many different languages from all over the world, and while I may not recognize a tune or know what it being spoken, the noise is always heartfelt and worshipful.

Leaving the chapel we headed on foot toward a path leading down the mountain.  The view was spectacular.  The hike was long enough that it allowed various members of our group to wander toward the back or catch up with others and carry on various conversations about any topic imaginable.  Throughout this trip I’ve typically found myself in the back.  Not because I’m a slow walker, but because I’m wanting to take every moment in and am often reluctant to move on to the next thing.  The guys in front of us started talking about comic books or something and the few in the back were marveling over the flowers.  John pointed out that last year’s group became obsessed with the flora, taking pictures of every flower as if they had never seen one before.  Each person tends to have their favorite angle of things they like to photograph.  Mine happens to be waterfalls, but we have yet to see one of those, and it’s doubtful that will occur.

About three-quarters of the way down our group stopped to rest beneath a tree, Jimmy spoke, then Bishop Watson preached.  He spoke to us as a group of clergy, sharing words that he knew we specifically needed to hear.  Just like Jesus spoke to his disciples, those words that would mean the most only to them.  It was here that I understood how Jesus did it.  In the midst of all this beauty, wandering around mountainsides, trying to get away from the crowds for a little peace and quiet, and finding small, secluded patches of earth covered in wildflowers, Jesus found his voice.  In the overwhelming peace and beauty of it all, it was easy to see where he drew his inspiration.  It was hard not to feel the Spirit moving within you.  It was almost impossible not to feel love for everybody at a time like this, and Jesus undoubtedly felt a slight sense of urgency in seeking to spread that feeling of peace, tranquility, and generosity with everyone around him.

We moved down the mountain just a bit farther where we found a cave.  It was a tiny little area carved out on the side of the mountain, but would’ve made a perfect spot to sit and rest, away from the crowds.  There was just enough room for all his disciples to gather around him and barely enough cover to get out of the sun for just a moment.  Yet it is believed that here is where he delivered the beatitudes.  And after walking and sitting there too, I have no doubt in my mind that Jesus walked where we walked and taught his beloved followers about becoming peacemakers, merciful and pure in heart.  He knew all the troubles they had been and would be facing and offered encouragement through promises of comfort and fulfillment.  I can almost see Jesus being a little proud of himself, as part of the Trinity, being amazed at all he created.  Then, finally getting to rest in one of his best masterpieces, smiling to himself a little, and sharing the words that would calm so many.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Bill permalink
    February 23, 2011 2:36 am

    Beautifully articulated, my friend. I almost feel like I am there with you thanks to your heartfelt descriptions. Thank you for that!

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