Today is day three of our Great Lenten journey, and let’s be honest, you’re beginning to feel the pressure of fasting. I know I am. If this is your first year taking the Fast seriously, or if you’re an experienced Orthodox, by Wednesday of the first week of Great Lent, we all need a boost. It isn’t a physical boost, but a spiritual boost.
Yesterday’s Daily Lenten Journey mentioned how we should fast during Great Lent. Today I want to talk about prayer. Great Lent is a season during which the Church invites us to INCREASE our prayer life, both private and corporate. It might seem counter-intuitive since our Lord, just this past weekend told us to go into our inner room to pray, but we NEED both private and corporate prayer during Great Lent.
Each year for the past several years, we here at Be Transfigured Ministries has offered our Daily Lenten Journey to assist you in with Great Lent. Through daily readings and inspiration, we pray our words will guide you into making this year’s Great Lenten Journey a new opportunity to grow closer to Christ, and as always to Live A New Life In Christ. This year will be no different.
Jerusalem is the City of Peace, and today is the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple. For me the connection is a profound one. As Saint Symeon had spent his life desiring to see Christ, I have spent my life with the “someday it would be nice to visit the Holy Lands” sort of attitude.
Today is our final day in the Holy Land, but it was no less filled with inspiration and memories. Our first stop today set the tone for the completion of our journey.
I’ve heard it said many times about museums, “You can’t see it all in just one hour; you need an entire day!” Well, so far this week at any site that we have visited, whether it be monastery, Church, or ancient ruins, “You can’t see it all in just one hour. You need the entire day.” In fact, You can’t do the Holy Lands in just one week! I could have spent an entire day at every site, if not more. I know now why Egeria spent three years on her pilgrimage.
I don’t really know where to begin today. We visited several monasteries today. As we draw closer to our Lord’s Tomb, which we will visit tomorrow, the depth of our visits hits me more with each visit. Forgive me for admitting, but if my phone did not timestamp each picture, I would never remember what I was looking at. Not only have we seen so many holy places, but I almost ashamed to admit that at this point caves look like caves and ruins look like ruins. I don’t say that disrespectfully, but honestly.
Today was a whirlwind day. I even got more than 11,000 steps in before coming back to my hotel room after dinner. I was ‘warned’ about all the walking, but it hasn’t really been that bad, and when you consider where we are walking, it is more than worth the steps. We began today with a Blessing of the Water on the banks of the Jordan River. Due to exceedingly high rainfall the past few weeks, the actual river was blocked off so we used the area the Patriarch uses when he blesses the water each year on Epiphany.
We began the day as usual with a delicious buffet for breakfast. The food here has been fantastic. The ‘law of the land’ is Kosher, so there is no dairy when meat is served. So no bacon with my eggs, and no butter with my bread. I’m sure I’ll survive. Our daily stop for lunch has been local favorites and staples, falafel or shawarma. Lucky for me, I like them both, but have kept the falafel for Wednesday! After breakfast we board the bus for the day’s excursions.
Today’s journey began boarding a boat “for the other side” for an hour on the Sea of Galilee.