Sight, Sound and Beyond

Archive for March, 2015

Dancing on the Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee

One of the most memorable experiences I had while visiting Israel was traveling by boat on the Sea of Galilee. On the morning of February 22nd, we left our hotel in Tiberius and went by boat to Ginosar to visit the Mount of the Beatitudes.

The boat ride was not what I expected it to be. I imagined that we would all be sitting in something similar to a row boat, but the boat was a fairly decent size. We were able to walk around on it and at one point we were dancing on it. We all danced to traditional Israeli folk music, and it was a lot of fun. I felt so happy and alive, and I enjoyed learning the Hebrew words to the traditional folk songs. I had always been familiar with the melodies, but never really knew how the words went. There were CDs there for sale, and I purchased the one that featured the folk music.

There is something so wonderful about music and dance. I believe that God expresses Himself through these art forms and that much of the arts are really a conversation between God and us. We speak, He answers, and the dialogue continues. As a musician, I feel fortunate to have this ability. Even if I am not the best of the best, I know the integrity and love is there, and through that, the Lord can work His hand in it.  I attribute my finest works and performances to Him because anything that is good comes from the God.

We are all called to a close relationship with God, and I believe that music is the best way for the Lord and I to communicate and nurture our divine friendship. Music is a language that everyone can understand, and it has the power bring people together. My mother always used to recite a well- known quote. I don’t know who actually said it, but it goes something like this: “Music is the language from heaven, which cannot be spoken in words.” I couldn’t agree more.

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My First Visit to Israel

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A View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

I remember studying the middle eastern countries in high school, and to me, it was one area of the world I did not want to ever visit because of all the war and conflict over there. I remember saying to my friends, Mary: “I would never visit Israel. I would probably get myself killed over there.”

Several years later, I found myself signing up for a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land lead by my parish priest, Fr. Martin. I had been taking a lot of bible studies and was learning about scripture and the story of salvation, something I never quite understood as a child. I did not have the privilege to study at a Catholic school like my parents did. They both attended catholic elementary-middle schools as well as catholic high schools. My father even attended a Catholic college. Even though I did receive religious instruction at my parish and received my sacraments, I still felt like I had a lot of catching up to do when it came to understanding the whole story and my place in it.

I was learning a lot and the opportunity to visit Israel seemed to come at a perfect time. It was like the Lord was calling me to go. Once I made my decision to go, I got a lot of mixed reactions from people. My mother’s comment was: “Don’t get shot over there.” I signed up to go in May of 2014 and then in October of that year, headlines all over the news broke out about people getting killed over there. My mother kept saying: “I think your trip to Israel is going to get canceled.” Yet the trip was still on. People kept telling me that I was crazy for wanting to go and I would say something like: “Look if I get killed over there, what better place is there to die?”

As the time of departure moved closer, my mother kept reminding me: “Stay with the group” and “Stay away from ISIS.” I let her comments go in one ear and out the other. I wasn’t worried because I had talked to many who had visited Israel and assured me that I would be safe.

I left for Israel on February 18th and returned on March 1st. It was a wonderful experience, and I got to visit all the places where Jesus walked, such as Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, Mount Tabor, Mount Zion, Mount of Olives, Bethlehem and the Old City of Jerusalem. I also visited Caesarea, the Golan Heights, Masada, Qumran and the Dead Sea.  I traveled with a nice sized group (there were 16 of us all together) and we all felt completely safe.

When I returned everyone asked me about my trip and my experiences and it was difficult to give a summary. In fact, I plan to post some specific experiences on this blog since it would be too challenging to describe it all in one post, so stay tuned!

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