Up the hill in Nazareth stands the great Basilica of the Annunciation. Designed by the Italian architect Giovanni Muzio, it is the largest Christian sanctuary in the Middle East and incorporates amazing mosaics and other pictoral representations of the Madonna.
The Church of the Transfiguration sits on the peak of Mount Tabor and was designed by another Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi.
Though quite different in design – in part because of the stories they reflect – they both inspire a profound sense of reverence and wonder. I was, at the same time and prior to thought, compelled both to sit down and look up.
For a few moments in each we were the only tour in the sanctuary. After the initial moments when iPhones and cameras were unholstered, people moved quietly to explore, to sit and offer prayer or quietly meditate.
It took an intentional effort to not be distracted by the screens of others.
The invitation to wonder and to reverence is such a subtle call and we are easily distracted. Is it possible to school ourselves so that, in time, the distractions slip away and wonder and awe become the dominant reality?