Seven years ago my wife spotted a trip to the Holy Land that was within our price range. Since the journey was high on her bucket list, we increased the cash flow of MasterCard and signed on.
The current journey marks the fourth for my wife and I, three as leaders of a tour.
Why? I ask myself. Why come back? And why encourage people to come with us?
The questions reflect genuine curiosity; neither frustration nor impatience infects the intention.
The brochures publicizing the tour reflect our initial intention to provide an opportunity for people to place the Biblical stories within the actual geographical context; and to give people a (reasonably) unfiltered view of the Holy Land, trusting that their power of observation and curiosity would provoke significant questions and learning.
These intentions continue to ring true but, as I sit on the less than a well-cushioned seat of an 8 hour Lufthansa flight, I wonder if something more is at play.
The maxim that has been at the core of my teaching around the practices of leadership is: It’s all about relationships.
I've concluded that this same conviction drives these trips to the Holy Land.
Relationships are particular. Metaphor, myth and the practices of previous eras shape them but, the depth, challenge and promise of relationships come in the engagement of the specific.
Metaphor, myth and the practices of previous eras shape relationships but their depth, challenge and promise comes in the engagement of the specific.
Particular actions nurture or deplete relationships. Sometimes those acts may be dramatic, and on a grand scale; more often they resemble the detail of the everyday.
So I covet the chance for people to walk along the stone covered beach where Jesus called the first disciples and realize this is not a Caribbean beach depicted in a travel poster with white sand the texture of icing sugar. Instead, the stories of Jesus describe real people on a stony beach, not far from where they launched their boats, repaired their nets and caught up with local gossip.
The number of encounters grows beyond our official itinerary. Ride on the Sea of Galilee when a storm quickly appears. Smell the scents and feel the din of the crowded market in Jerusalem. Stand in the ruins of Sepphoris and conclude that Jesus, as a day labourer, could easily have walked there from Nazareth and so encountered a cosmopolitan world vastly different from the village life of his youth.
I have long grown weary of empty rhetoric of whatever shape. I covet more depth and understanding both of the Biblical story and our current reality.
To grasp the whole we need to look at the particularity of place, story, characters and geography.