Monday, March 29, 2010
I Swam Today Where Jesus Walked
Last week we spent eleven days living on a kibbutz on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (so when I say "I swam today where Jesus walked" I use the word "today" very loosely), and it may have been my favorite thing we've done. So far.
Some days we'd go on day trips to places like Capernaum, Nazareth or the Mount of Transfiguration. Other days we'd have New Testament class on the beach; studying the words of our Savior while looking out over the land He loved. But on one of the days we had day trips, we went to the Mount of Beatitudes where the lovely Franciscans have, in typical Roman Catholic fashion, built a beautiful church, while maintaining the pastoral theme with breathtaking, tropical gardens.
After having a lesson about the sermon Jesus gave on this mountain, we were given about an hour for personal study within the garden that overlooks the brilliant blue of the Galilee. During this time I found a little stair that was billowed by some particularly ravishing hibiscuses, and instead of feasting on more of Christ's work that was written down, I just leaned back into the flowers and absorbed all of Christ's physical work in our beautiful world.
Whether I was looking at the bougainvilaeas moseying along the filigreed fence, or at the meticulously placed basalt stones that lined the the multitudes of pansies, whose bright faces translate cheerfulness wherever you are, you could tell that an incredible amount of work has gone into keeping this garden as beautiful as it is. These Franciscan friars have left behind secular lives, most of them very successful lives, and have now taken on humble vows of poverty to devote their services to God. One man in particular had been an international accountant, working mainly in Geneva, he was (and is) fluent in 8 different languages and had amassed millions of dollars in wealth, which he wholeheartedly gave away to do whatever menial task the Lord required of him.
As I was thinking about the selfless service these friars perform to maintain this beautiful garden, I realized how similar their sacrifice is to the role our Redeemer plays. Just like this beautiful garden was started from rocky soil covered in weeds, so are our souls less than desirable real estate. But Christ, as our loving older Brother, acts as a perfect gardener, willing to trim all our hedges, and tend to every dying flower, if we but open our gates to let Him in.