If there’s anywhere in the world I thought I’d never, ever go, it’s probably the Middle East.
Don’t get me wrong, I love experiencing different things, but I’ve always had this apprehension of the Middle East being so far different from anything I’ve ever experienced that I just wouldn’t be able to enjoy my time there or experience the people, culture, and land in a meaningful way.
WRONG. Welcome to Israel.
A group from the law school contacted a group called Israel & Co. to give us the most unbelievable experience I could have imagined. Seriously, it was eight days of nonstop adventure, and there was so much more I wish we could have done.
I went to mass in front of Jesus’s tomb at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. I rode ATVs along the Syrian border. I floated in the Dead Sea. I drank wine in the Golan Heights. I slept in a privatized Kibbutz. I touched the Sea of Galilea. I Segway-ed along the beach in Tel Aviv. I haggled in the Jaffa market. And that’s not even the half of it.
Needless to say, it was awesome.
Something really struck me about the trip, though, that I wasn’t expecting, and I only realized it when my dad asked me yesterday when I called to give the trip recap whether I felt some type of spiritual renaissance after visiting all the holy sites for Christians.
Yeah, it was unbelievable doing all of the cool Catholic stuff on the trip. And I wish I could say that my faith is totally changed after visiting Simon Peter’s house or the Basilica of the Annunciation. But to be honest, it wasn’t those sites that filled me with faith.
The most spiritual part for me was seeing other people interacting with their faiths in their way. Welcoming Shabbat at the Western Wall with the Jews. Hearing the call to prayer for the Muslims. Listening to all Christian denominations discussing the differences in our respective sects. Together.
That was where I found God this trip. Not in the monuments built to Him or the towering buildings in which people worship Him. But in the people He brings together wherever He finds them, who all worship in their own way.
That was the best part of the trip for me. Connecting with my human family.
Israel is so diverse in so many ways, from the landscape to the people to the cultures to the architecture. It was an unbelievable eight days that was both exhausting and exhilarating (but like seriously I just slept for 12 hours).
I will most definitely be back to visit this beautiful place.