How do you summarize a day like today with people falling into bed and others staying up to talk about their adventures?
It was a rich day filled with spiritual adventure, great meals, lots of fun and a deep sense of being close to the Lord.
We started out in Bethlehem where we shopped at a Christian store and our purchases helped 60 Christian families where there is 70% unemployment. This is the only time we go shopping because that is not what the pilgrims came to do. The olive wood products, mother of pearl, Russian icons, antiquities and more were very enticing.
We also heard the OUR FATHER prayer in the language of Jesus.
After I took everyone down to the factory to watch the Christians making the olive wood items, we loaded on the bus and headed to the amazing place where Mary gave birth to Jesus. We were blessed with no line and were able to go straightaway into the grotto.
There were many tears of joy as people knelt down and kissed the place where Jesus was born and where Mary introduced him to the world. This is one of the holiest places on the face of the earth!!
Lunch at the Christmas Tree Restaurant — again to help a Christian family. Schwarma and falafels were delicious. The priests learned how to cook falafels.
Visiting a Carmelite Monastery with the relics of the Palestinian Arab girl’s relics and wearing her cape in prayer was very moving. Blessed Miriam of Jesus Crucified was beatified by Pope John Paul II.
Then to Shepherds Field for Mass in the cave where the shepherds were guarding their flocks by night when the heavens opened and the angel of the Lord announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. Wow!
We ate the Passover Lamb with Palestinian rice before dancing the night away. Wait until you see the fun the pilgrims had dancing in the gentle yet pulsing manner of the locals.