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Posts Tagged ‘Caesarea’

 

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”   Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
“The most adventurous journey to embark on; is the journey to yourself, the most exciting thing to discover; is who you really are, the most treasured pieces that you can find; are all the pieces of you, the most special portrait you can recognize; is the portrait of your soul.”   C. JoyBell C.

It was much sadder than I had anticipated, saying goodbye to the people who had shared my journey of self-discovery as we toured the Middle East. I began my journey alone and fleeing from a situation I needed to put into perspective. I had learned so much as we travelled these ancient lands and found a friend when I least expected to do so.  Yet my journey was not yet done.

The trip back to Tel Aviv was not without dramas, but then, after so many airports I had no expectations that it would be any different. I was no longer part of a tour group. Yes, I had my trip planned to go back to Tel Aviv but I was a single traveller once more, with no guide to wend an easy path through the departure rigmarole, and no-one speaking English within sight or sound. So it was with relief that I finally emerged through Israeli customs and was met by my driver to take me back to my hotel.

For two weeks I spent my time wandering through Tel Aviv and Jaffa and reacquainting myself with those people I had met when I first arrived. I went back to Caesarea and sat gazing out to sea wondering what the many people who had lived there had thought when their time came to leave. (That is not discounting the many people who have remained in the area all this time and still call it home, but of the “invaders”, that is a different story.) Of them, not many had chosen to leave voluntarily.

At one point I found myself perched on one of the large column blocks, not thinking, mind just drifting along in a sudden period of silence. I suddenly felt held in place by some unseen force as I heard a “clanking” all around me – a sound I recognised as the sound chain mailed and armoured bodies make as they walk around.  There was the smell of the ocean strong in my nose, then overtaken by the coppery smell of blood. Ships were in the harbour, a forest of trees as the masts swayed in the ocean swell, waiting to take the remaining crusaders to safety. The fighting had been intense and the casualties too high.

As I sat there mesmerised, I saw a mailed hand descend on my shoulder.

The voice belonging to that mailed glove said, “Come now, Bertrand, there is nothing more to be done here. It is time to leave. We have been given our orders”.

From within the space where I sat another crusader rose to stand beside his lifelong friend. As I watched they hurriedly descended through the tunnels to the docks. I felt a pull from somewhere deep inside as if I was meant to go along too. Finally I saw them in the boats being shepherded out to the waiting ships. The relief that they both made it as far as the ships was overwhelming. As they left my sight the sounds and smells of the day seemed to suddenly crowd in again.

Was I day dreaming or did something just happen? Was I shown a glimpse of the past or was it a glimpse of another life? All I know for certain is there was an intense connection with Bertrand as he sat on the column, one which pulled me along with him as they left the garrison. One which allowed me to feel how heavy his heart was at leaving this place and the loss he felt with the death of a dear friend. 

I left later, still somewhat dazed by the revelations of the day. In some strange way I felt part of myself had been there on that day and my drive home I felt as if I was on the high seas. Incredible!

The often otherworldly experiences as I had walked these ancient lands had been making a profound change within me. After my return, instead of following the glam and glitter of the nightclub scene I was offered by my friends, I chose to remain alone much of the time.

#InSearchof

Tel Aviv Boulevard

We still met for coffee at the beautiful venues along the Tel Aviv esplanade when we could, always entranced by this incredible area. I wandered the Ha Carmel markets and visited the large shopping centres, seeing a life so similar to the everyday that one almost forgot the armed security guards at each entrance. I wandered Ben- Gurion Avenue and saw the home of David and Paula Ben Gurion. David Ben Gurion was the first Prime Minister of Israel. The somewhat unimpressive exterior hides their home which they lived in until 1970. The upstairs rooms, all four, were floor to ceiling books, 20,000 of them!

Oh for a library of that calibre. I often forgot to take photos on these meanderings and this is a picture of their kibbutz home I saw there which shows the vast difference between their old home and the place they spent the remainder of their days.

#InSearchof

Image from triptoisrael2006.blogspot.com Ben Gurion Boulevard

In the evenings I again resumed my walks to Jaffa and then sat on the esplanade enjoying the ocean breeze. The beautiful weather had been a tremendous gift whilst I had been there and the sunsets were something I would always remember. At those times it seemed as though a special light, a Spiritual light, was healing all the broken parts inside me and leaving me feeling at peace. There is no other way to describe the feeling of serenity with which I would leave after the sunset and head back to my hotel for a latte in the lounge. The girls there spoilt me with their generosity.

The feelings of a deep peace and a blossoming of my Spirit gave me a belief that there was so much more than this everyday existence we often become bogged down in. The majestic expansiveness of life, the mystery of past, present and future, all being available if we but allow it, was a blessing I had not imagined nor expected to find here. I realised that there was far more for me to do in this lifetime, and thoughts of leaving it behind became like dim memories.

#InSearchof

Glorious sunset over the Mediterranean.

The time came to leave Tel Aviv all too soon and it was with a very heavy heart that I packed my bags once more.

Leaving brought one unpleasant reality to the fore.  I had over packed before I left and with all the pieces I had acquired on my travels, for myself (of course), and my family, I had far too much luggage to take with me to Athens and then Switzerland. Pragmatism came to the fore and when I repacked, I did so with the intention of leaving one case in storage at the Athens airport.  It was far less expensive than paying excess baggage!

A HINT for anyone travelling overseas, Check ALL the countries/airlines baggage allowances before you leave and pack for the least amount allowed. It is not only easier on the back it is far less expensive on the pocket!

Whilst sad to be leaving, and feeling certain there was more I could learn, of a personal and spiritual nature, I was looking forward to my quick visit to Athens whilst I made my way to my friend in Geneva. There was a certainty that my time there would be as fruitful to my yearning to learn my spiritual reason for being here, and so with mixed feelings I left.

A snapshot of the wonders of these ancient lands.

Israel will always remain a special and wonderful time in my life, a time when uncertainty and pain were replaced with a belief and surety that life has more meaning than our everyday existence.

 

Next Week…….Geneva and Switzerland.

Blessings, Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson 2014

 

 

 

 

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A Step Back in Time

image from www-josephinewall-co.uk   Spirit Elements

“If you learn to really sit with loneliness and embrace it for the gift that it is…an opportunity to get to know YOU, to learn how strong you really are, to depend on no one but YOU for your happiness…you will realize that a little loneliness goes a LONG way in creating a richer, deeper, more vibrant and colorful YOU.”
Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

I had really enjoyed my wandering around Tel Aviv. After 12 days I was still awed by the flow of life which seemed a constant all day long. The Boulevard seemed like a true social gathering place. The coffee shops, restaurants and ice cream parlors were fabulous and the beach side bars had an ambiance all their own. I found myself relaxing and as I continued my walks along the Boulevard I also noticed I was breathing easier, the tension was finally leaving my body. It was so strange but so good at the same time. I couldn’t remember when I had last felt this lessening of tension. How long had I been carrying that around?

However, I wasn’t going to wander around for my entire stay in Israel. I had decided to go on a three week tour, 9 days in Israel, 7 in Egypt and 5 days in Jordan. It was a historical tour, but not a religious tour, which was exciting.  On day 13 of my stay the people who were going on the tour with me arrived in the hotel, and I was pleasantly surprised to find another Australian amongst the group. M was a vivacious young girl, the same age as my daughter, and we hit it off from the outset. The rest of the group comprised mainly Americans with a couple of Canadians, two people from Brazil and an English couple just married. It promised to be a great trip.

Early the next morning we set off and the first ‘adventure’ a walk around the old port city of JAFFA! It was so different from my solitary wanderings as we heard the history of the site. We had been blessed with a tour guide who had studied archaeology and so the history became a living breathing excursion. If I went over all the history of each place I’d need a novel, so I scribbled when I could and took pictures instead. Standing at the top of the hill and looking out   over the ocean or looking towards Tel Aviv there was a feeling of freedom. I was fulfilling a dream, a dream both Mum and I had shared for years, and I was learning more about myself each day.

As we walked around Jaffa, it was astonishing to see the additions of rooms to the outside of buildings as they ran out of room to expand, and the giant hanging orange tree. My notes said,” The Hovering Orange Tree, in the centre of Old Jaffa is supposed to be a symbol of Israel’s prosperity, and some see in it a metaphor for the Jewish people, hanging between heaven and earth with their sufferings.”  Hundreds of years old it made me feel as though the people of yesteryear were walking past me to water the tree.

Irrespective of what the travel brochure said, it’s an incredible sight to see. We saw the miniature city of Tel Aviv and walked along Ben Gurion Boulevard, through the Hacarmel markets and got to soak up the atmosphere of Tel Aviv. The markets were an incredible experience. Crowded like nothing I’ve seen before there were stalls offering so many different things it was difficult to take it all in. There were the traditional type of craft stalls, beautiful clothes, so much colour it hurt the eyes, and food, so many smells to tempt the hungry, but we had a special dinner arranged so we had to get back to the hotel. It felt as though we had wandered into another world and when we left we walked out into this world.

The next day we left by bus and traveled up the coast up to Haifa and then on to Caesarea.  Walking through the ruins and listening to the multifaceted history of life from the Byzantine era through the Roman era to present day was mind blowing. I should add I adore history and this was history made live before my eyes. Yes, I was excited.  It was believed built on the ruins of “Straton’s Tower’, captured by Jannaeus in 90BCE until taken over by the Romans in 63BCE. Herod the Great renames it Caesarea in honour of the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. He built a deep sea harbour, markets, and held gladiator games in the theatre. Caesarea also flourished during the Byzantine pe

The area became a serious farming area until the Crusader conquest in the 11th century. The farms were buried under the sands shifting along the shores of the Mediterranean. The Mosque on the site was converted into the church of St. Peter in the Crusader times. From then it had a chequered past, seeing the area inhabited by various people until the Israelis took control during the 1948 conflict.  I felt as though I was travelling away from all the problems I had back in Australia and I was being whisked away back in time. Despite the throngs of people there were occasions I was alone and then there were chills at times, as I felt someone from a bygone age brush past me.

From here we went to Acre or Akko as the Israeli now call it, at the northern end of Haifa Bay. It has a historical lineage like Caesarea. It has been inhabited by the Greeks, Jews and Romans. We traveled in our explorations from the Byzantine era, Persian¸ 1st Crusades, to Saladin then the 3rd Crusades (Richard 1st of England), to the Mamluks, Ottomans and eventually the British. It was during the British Mandate that Acre’s fort was converted into a jail where the early Jewish underground fighters were imprisoned and shot. In May 1947 the Irgun broke into the jail, freeing the other activists and around 200 Arab prisoners. In May 1948 the Israeli’s captured Acre and it has remained in Israeli hands ever since.  Parts of the jail are still in use although it is possible to see those areas which are no longer used.

As we walked around, seeing the layers of history as we went through the ruins and up to the level the jail was at the top was a strange experience. It felt, at times, as though there were crowds of people whispering behind you, all in different languages. There was a real sense of impending doom and death in certain places.  My skin would suddenly ripple with gooseflesh, I would almost hear the sound of screams, and once I felt the definite pressure of a hand on my shoulder.

It seemed that as my cares back in Australia fell away and my mind was freed from thinking about them, I was open to hear and feel more of the spiritual experiences I had begun to feel I’d lost, when Mum had passed away. In a strange way, it also felt as though the years were dropping away too, and I became more carefree and light hearted. This was what I needed. I was finally beginning to find myself.

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
― Rumi

Blessings, Susan x

Next week – More Revelations

© Susan Jamieson 2013

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