We ended up at the Mount of the Beatitudes and in Capernaum before arriving at our hotel, places where I've now come for the fourth time. They are extraordinary places, but since I've posted on these places before, I'll simply refer you to a couple of posts from 2010 and 2016, here and here.
I'll simply add that as previously stated, I find the "Lake" to be comforting and even familiar place. The Mount of the Beatitudes reminds me of the "core values" at the heart of Jesus' teachings. There one remembers to consider the flowers and the birds, and it's not hard to do since it is an aesthetically lovely place. There one remembers that those who follow Jesus are called to become more and more a community that blesses peacemakers, and the merciful, and those who mourn and those who are hungry. Always this has been a counter-cultural calling but right now the state of our union seems to suggest it is more important than ever.
But as I review the day, and count my many blessings for this unique interfaith pilgrimage, I am most grateful that today is Tu B'Shavat, a kind of Jewish arbor day. It is a holiday that came to symbolize (especially during the diaspora) the connection between the Jewish people and the land. And so today we each planted a tree through the Jewish National Fund. We offered a prayer before doing so, beseeching God to "give dew for a blessing and cause beneficent rains to fall in their season..."
This leads me to one of my very favorite poems, Wendell Berry's Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front, which I tried to remember from memory (and recalled a fair amount of it) while I was planting my tree. One of the great stanzas in that poem goes like this
Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias. Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest. Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold. Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.It seems to me that taking the time to cultivate interfaith relationships - or any relationship at all - and taking the time to consider the birds and the flowers or to plant a tree or to share a meal with someone or to walk by the lake is all of one piece. Most days I know this, but some days there is more clarity than others.