I give thanks for the kindness of Bishop John in allowing me to join his retreat to the Holy Lands in May.
As an autistic Christian, long travel is daunting. But ...encountering the very stones on which Jesus walked? Touching the smooth, cool surfaces. Encountering the fragrant beauty of the flowers and herbs that surrounded him in the landscape. Bathing in the light of dawn, as the sunlight touches the hills, the lake...It makes it worth every moment of anxiety, and every long hour of careful planning and preparation.
I went with a question. And with a heart filled with worry.
In the Encounter Chapel, in the Magdala area, I found what I needed. In quiet prayer during the service. In being able to say what hurts in my life. In daring to reach, in prayer, for the 'hem of Jesus's garment', hoping for healing. I mean this figuratively, not literally. But, the beautiful painting in that chapel was breathtaking. It meant so much to me, as a marginalised woman in today's society. It shows the hand of a woman, reaching out to touch the hem of Jesus's clothes, unseen by him. She hoped for healing. Just by even that tiny, tiny action. Such was her faith. Healing, physical, and spiritual, after a lifetime of being excluded from society because of a situation not of her making. She was healed. He put her back into society, through her faith, through his power.
I came out at peace.
Truly blessed with the wonderful people who shared that retreat. With all of the lovely people of all cultures, faiths and backgrounds that we met as we visited the Holy sites. With the kindness of the airport and airline staff who helped me get there and back safely and without added anxiety. Thanks to lovely family who knew how important this was to me, and who sent me with their own blessing. Coping without me is not a small thing, for them.
Mostly, huge thanks to the wise leaders of our Retreat. They allowed me to travel in a group of people of amazing minds and superb verbal ability. People of great knowledge of faith and huge public authority. It was such an honour to be a small part of their journey.
It meant so much.
After the recent journey with cancer, and its aftermath, each day is a gift I may never be given again. I may live a full life, thanks to the team. But one never knows, after cancer. I may never be able to return. So, I keep each precious moment in my heart.