First, the food. I've already gained so much weight that my pants aren't going to fit anymore. There are at least 15 vegetable salads at each meal, and that's before the warm food buffet, the desserts, and whatever special treat is available, like a falafel bar, dessert crepes, etc.
Next, the room. I would have slept on a board if that was the only horizontal surface I could find. But it was the cutest little room ever. Think Pottery Barn meets Sea of Galilee. Here it is:
Now, day 2...
We took a bus ride to a kibbutz on "the other side" of the Sea of Galilee and from there we took a boat ride on the Sea. The bishop had asked me at breakfast to read Matthew 4:12-22 before he preached on that same passage. Halfway through the reading I got a bit overwhelmed. I was reading about Jesus calling the disciples. And I was on the Sea of Galilee. The bishop had a wonderful time of teaching, and then we all simply enjoyed the ride. It was warm and a bit breezy. We couldn't have asked for better weather.
A funny aside: As soon as the boat left the dock, the United States National Anthem came blaring over the loudspeaker and the American flag was raised. We immediately stood because it's reflex, but then we looked around at each other, wondering if anyone else thought this odd. Apparently this is something that the boat operator does, not something that would be expected or recommended at all.
After the boat ride we moved on to Tabgha. The Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha is the traditional location of the Feeding of the 5000. This is the rock on which tradition states Jesus blessed the bread given by the young boy.
Then we moved to the Church of Peter's Primacy, just up the street. Tradition states that this is the place where Jesus revealed himself to the disciples after his resurrection by breakfasting with them on the beach. Another rock, another place where it is believed that Jesus fed his disciples. It was here that he called them again to be his disciples.
This particular area of the Sea of Galilee contains warm springs that cause algae to grow, and that algae attracts fish. The warm springs were not attracting fish, but the sea and the warm pebbles on the beach were inviting us to stay for a long, long time.
Then we went to Capernaum. Jesus left his hometown of Nazareth to do his business in Capernaum, which doesn't mean a whole lot to us out of context, but to Jesus' contemporaries it would have been quite significant. Capernaum was home one of the oldest synagogues in the the world and was on the Via Maris, one of the most important trade routes in the Middle East. Jesus would have gotten attention in Capernaum that he could have never received in Nazareth.
After that, the Mount of Beatitudes, commemorating Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. This was a beautiful place to sit and reflect on the location, Jesus' teaching, and his ministry in Galilee.
Then we hiked down to a place called eremos, which is sometimes translated "lonely place." On the side of the hill, looking out on the sea, in the quiet, we wondered if that was the place to which Jesus retreated to teach, to pray, and to grieve. Just below the place where we stopped was a cave that was just about the size that it could hold ten to twelve people.
We reflected on the importance of retreating to a lonely place, and how none of us do it often enough. Even Jesus needed to get away, and somehow we think we can do it all ourselves. Of course, I would probably take more time to get away if I had that view too!
Our last stop for the day was Mt. Arbel. Mt. Arbel is also on the Via Maris, and bandits used to hide in the caves at the top of the mountain to rob the merchants as they came through the mountain pass. The Roman government eventually stopped them by rappelling down the cliffs and throwing hot oil inside the caves.
So then we went back to our hotel and had dinner before crashing.