We started a new day this morning witnessing the sun rising over the Dead Sea. We had celebrated the joy and spirit of community by floating gleefully, arm in arm on it last evening, amusingly kept afloat by its salt content. Today we re-focus as pilgrims as by the time this sun sets, we would be in Jerusalem.
The message of the need to first forgive our self is beginning to play itself into our hearts. Forgiveness for self is like the salt content in the Dead Sea; with it our spiritual life will always be kept afloat. Forgiveness is always available because He went up into Jerusalem to die and rise for it.
We cut across the desert landscape heading to Jericho. We arrive at the foot of Mt Temptation and wondered how a man can survive fasting in this desert for 40 days. We tasted local dates plumped with sweetness and realized that something good can come out of a desert experience.
Many of us pilgrims have had our own desert experience in our spiritual life. We had climb our own sycamore tree and peeped at Jesus from afar only to be invited to come closer through Landings. Conversion had started on the tree of our life events.
Our mass at the Church of the Good Shepherd was an empowerment and affirmation of our Landings mission. The harsh desert landscape is unforgiving. It is challenging for both the lost sheep and the searching shepherd, challenging for both the returning and the welcoming Catholic. At mass, in the middle of this desert, our resolve was strengthened, our spirit encouraged, to continue our mission.
We continued on the road to Jerusalem. We stopped at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany. Our secular life is always competing for space with our spiritual life. Most times we allow our busy schedules to drag us away. Sitting here in this church allowed our pilgrim hearts to quieten down. In this silence we understood they needed to coexist, the Mary and Martha in us…and we are on this pilgrimage to find that balance.
Secular life can take us far away till we are entombed. The tomb of Lazarus was an experience. It reminded us that the Lord is always calling us to come out so that our spiritual life can be raised from the dead.
The fight between our secular and spiritual lives is keenly felt today. We had indulged ourselves with a break by the Dead Sea breaking the pilgrimage momentum that we had gathered by the Sea of Galilee. Yet this conflict speaks to us.
The reality of life is such. We cannot escape the secular world. We must live in its allure; the compulsion to take photos and the therapy of shopping represented this allure for us. Our pilgrimage is situated amidst these temptations, our secular life in even bigger temptations. Spiritual life strengthens every time we rebound from these.
We arrive in Jerusalem and climbed the Mount of Olives to visit the Shrine of the Ascension. How much are we into going into the ends of the world and telling everyone the Good News?
We end our day at Pater Noster where Jesus taught us how to pray. Give us today our daily bread. This daily bread help us to forgive self to enable us to go to the ends of the world. This daily bread cannot be selfishly kept for our own benefit. We must use it to forgive others their trespasses. Otherwise we will end up like the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea is really dying, shrinking each year as it continues to receive but never gives. It does not have an outlet. And so too it shall be with our spiritual lives, if we do not learn to give we will shrivel up and die. We too must hurry out of our spiritual deserts.
O Jerusalem, we look to you for life.