Note: In January 2011 my wife and I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was a very moving experience. This post is part of a series of blogs I have written to convey what I sensed while on this life changing trip. You can read about the entire trip in a devotional book called "Touching the Footprints of Jesus."
Though I am not Catholic, I enjoyed meditating inside the Roman Catholic Church built on the site long before I was born. Kneeling at the kneeling bench praying and then looking up into the lovely dome above the church at the mosaics of the various events that happened on the mountain was very moving. Later, our group sat outside the church in a lovely garden while one of the members of the group read the Beatitudes from the Gospels and we prayed together.
Our tour guide, who was not Christian, seemed in a hurry to be off to the next place. He did not seem to feel the same Spirit that we did in that place. At the time, I was annoyed at him about his lack of understanding at what the rest of us in the group who were Christians were experiencing. But as I reflect back on the experience, instead of feeling annoyed at him, I feel sadness. To him, it was just one more spot on a list of places to show tourists. It was simply a job to be fulfilled. It was a duty to be done in order to get a good tip from the group.
I wonder if our tour guide was that much different than countless Christians who go into church every week with one eye on their watch and the other on the back door. Too often they seem in a hurry to rush out and beat the people from the church across town to the best restaurants for lunch. Perhaps we need to learn to slow down some. To savor the moments of serenity and peace that God gives us. Perhaps it is time to learn to feel the Spirit in sacred places and let the Spirit renew us with a sense of God’s most holy Presence. Those are the thoughts that come to mind as I meditate on my visit to the Church of the Beatitudes.