To anyone who comes here, there may be a moment of personal epiphany or revelation, I would guess. Many are most moved by the historic sites–the place of Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem, or his passion in Jerusalem. The Garden at Gethsemane, or maybe Nazareth, where he grew up and was eventually shunned.
For me, it was Galilee. Specifically, the Sea of Galilee. We had moved from land that is brown and dry, with mostly olive trees and terraced hillsides, into a valley that became vibrant and green. For me, it was easy to imagine Jesus teaching the multitudes here on these hillsides surrounding this beautiful lake, or sea, if you prefer. There was a breeze that came across the Mount of Beatitudes and relieved the heat that is so prevalent here in summer. To sit and listen in this realm makes a lot of sense to me.
On this beautiful day, I could see boats, probably fishermen, down on that water where Jesus found many of his disciples. Our guide spoke of caravans of immigrants moving through this land as they have done for centuries. This was a crossroads for many cultures, and many of these people were drawn to this man who spoke in parables and embodied peace.
‘Almost 70 percent of Jesus’s ministry took place around the Sea of Galilee,’ our guide said. ‘It is here that he calmed the storm, and it is here that he walked on the water.’
It was here, for me, in the outdoors, that I could imagine why he might come and spend so much of his ministry. But then again, it’s these waters and hillsides that seemed sacred for me–as sacred as a church or tomb might be to another.
It was in the panoramic landscape of Galilee that I was most able to conjure images of Jesus’ life.
The Sea of Galilee was a resplendent contrast to so much of the arid areas of Palestine.