It has been one year since we returned from our pilgrimage to the Holy Land and I find myself reflecting on the significance of the entire experience, but particularly the relationships formed and developed over the course of those weeks. We started truly forming community on the way there during our nearly 24 hours of travel from Seattle to Tel Aviv. By the time we landed on a hot, sweaty afternoon in Israel, we were friends.
Those friendships quickly grew and stretched during our home-stays in Raineh where we extended our web of relationships to include the Episcopal families who hosted and cared for us in our early moments of culture shock and adjustment. From there, we met the six Palestinian Christian youth who were to travel with us for the remainder of our pilgrimage and another new community was born.
As these relationships deepened we shared our faith, our music, laughter, and ourselves. We shared the experience of learning new places and peoples. We shared card games, shopping, hide-and-go-seek with the grumpy nun, hot afternoons hiking through ruins, and icy relief in dozens and dozens of popsicles and cokes.
So one year later, the things that stand out for me the most are the relationships with one another and with the land through our shared experience of transformation in the land of our common story, the story of Christ.