After a 6 AM flight from Seattle to Newark, then a flight overnight to Tel Aviv, our group is not quite sure which day it is. Our guide Tony (who teached Biblical archeology at Hebrew University as his primary employment, so a fount of knowledge) and driver Naill met us at the airport. Tony told us about the very low percentage of Christians living in Israel … less than one percent, if my tired brain heard him correctly.
We drove to Mount Tabor, which figures in various stories from the scriptures. It’s one of the likely places that could be the site of the Transfiguration story (Mount Hermon is as likely, but it’s not uncommon to find multiple sites claiming to be THE place that is referred to in a Biblical story). We careened up the 2 miles of switchback road to the mountaintop in small vans. After a lovely lunch at a Franciscan monestery, we worshipped and toured the beautiful church of the Transfiguration, built by the architect 1920’s who designed the Vatican. A mosaic of Elijah, Moses, and Jesus is glorious over the altar. From a balcony to the right of the church, we overlooked the Valley of Armageddon, a fertile agricultural valley (despite its name). The various religious sites have a sign in one version or another; this is on Mt. Tabor.
After coming down the mountain even more rapidly than we ascended, our bus took us to the wonderful Pilgerhaus on the Sea of Galilee. From the terrace overlooking the water, early-blooming fruit trees are in glorious flower. Tomorrow we will experience more of the area around Galilee. But first … sleep!