What if I were to tell you that I found a way to get from Los Angeles to the Holy land in less than two hours? You might think I am a rocket scientist and I should patent my invention, or sell it for millions of dollars. Or you might think that I am pulling your leg.
You’d be wrong either way.
It’s true! I left home with two other sisters on Wednesday morning and arrived exactly at noon! Then this morning we started the trip home at about ten and were in time for lunch. No jet lag, no customs, and best of all…no security check!
We bypassed Bethlehem and didn’t stop in Nazareth either. I know you will be shocked, but we didn’t even set foot in Jerusalem. With only 48 hours to spend on the entire trip, we had to make a bee line for our special destination: Mount Carmel!
All right, all right. I know you are about to stop reading this post if I don’t explain something about this trip. The fact is, the Holy Land that I am referring to is not way off in the Middle East, it is actually very conveniently located in the Antelope Valley, just an hour and a half north of LA. And the specific site is Mount Carmel…in the Desert, that is.
Mount Carmel in the Desert (which we run, if you haven’t already guessed) is celebrating its tenth year providing a spiritual oasis in the high desert. As you drive out, it is easy to think, “What on earth am I doing going way out here into no man’s land?” But as soon as you step out of your car (or off the bus if you joined in one of the many pilgrimages) you will be pervaded by the silence and peace of the place.
I was there this week for a personal day of renewal and study. Early Thursday morning I took my books and climbed up one of the buttes (a pile of boulders the size of a hill). From the top I could survey the land stretching out for miles and miles. The San Gabriel Mountains with their snowy slopes flanked the vista on the south and the mountains in Tehachapi formed a mirrored image to the west. The north and east were seemingly endless desert. Slowly the desert surrendered its icy coldness imparted by the night as the sun began to traverse the sky.
How many grace-filled moments I could recount from my brief pilgrimage: feeling the sun penetrate and warm me through as if it was reminding me of the deep reaching mercy of Jesus’ Sacred Heart, climbing over rocks and around tumble weed to reach the highest point on the property which is surmounted with a massive white cross, watching furry cottontails scamper through the brush, then turn to look at me from a now safe distance, I could go on and on.
But really, I think for me one of the greatest blessings is to think that here, not so far from my home, I am walking through terrain very similar to that through which Christ Jesus walked. That this is the type of place that God chose to prepare people for His coming when He sent John the Baptist. That it was in a place just like this that God promised to lead His beloved and there speak to her heart. And He does!!!
So, to conclude, I have a question to ask: When are you planning your trip to the Holy Land? Perhaps I will see you there.