Mother Tanya Scheff, the Rector at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Quincy, made a seven day pilgrimage to Israel in January of this year.
“This trip was actually a gift from our bishop.” Scheff explained. “The Episcopal Diocese of Florida paid for new clergy to make this trip. Any new clergy person in our diocese was invited.”
Departing from Tallahassee Regional Airport on January 17, Scheff and other clergy from her diocese flew first to JFK International Airport in New York City, and from there across the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea to Tel Aviv, Israel.
Scheff’s group toured numerous regions and settlements of historical and spiritual importance throughout the country, including Canaan, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Meggido, Jericho, and Jerusalem.
“There’s a wonder about looking at something that’s ancient, knowing that other human beings had the same thoughts and loves and cares and anxieties that we have right now, that lived in this space for thousands of years,” recalls Scheff. “So the type of antiquity there, it seeps into you. It kind of makes you realize who we are on this planet. That’s really what’s going to settle into you as you’re walking through this ancient community.”
Some of the sites visited by the group included King Herod’s Palace in Caesarea, the possible home of St. Peter in Almagor, the Mount of Beatitudes, one of the ruins of the Decapolis, the location where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, and the Garden of Gethsemane.
“Quite honestly, by the end of the seven days, we were so exhausted we couldn’t see anything else. Our brains were full,” said Scheff, laughing. “We did get to spend three days in the Holy City [Jerusalem], and that itself is just tremendous.”
Scheff arrived home from her trip on January 25, and is still processing what the journey meant for her.
When asked if she had a favorite memory, Scheff replied, “You know, my head and my heart are still digesting these things. I’m still untangling that, and I don’t know how I’m able to speak coherently, without having some tears from the emotion involved. If you ask me again next year I might be able to answer that. But I do suggest if you’re interested in archaeology, that’s a place to go visit, if you’re interested in geography that’s a place to go visit. If you’re having a faith walk, this really helps show you where our lord Jesus walked. You can see it. It’s no longer just words in a book. It’s tangible. You can taste the dust, you can hear all the people talking, you can see the kind of unrest Jesus is speaking to when he is telling us to love our neighbor. You can actually see the culture that Jesus is speaking to.”
Stephen Klein – Gadsden County News Service