Sunday, September 2, 2018

Sunday, September 2, 2018 - Two Days Before Departure

I am getting very excited for the beginning of my first pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Several of my good friends have made this trip more than once.  For Christians and Jews, a visit to Israel and the Holy Land is akin to Islam's pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which is the birthplace of  the Prophet Muhammad and the Islamic faith itself.  Only Muslims are allowed in the city, with millions arriving for the annual Hajj (pilgrimage), where they visit the Sacred Mosque that surrounds the Kaaba, a cubic structure that is Islam's most sacred shrine.  Of course the Holy Land is revered by Christians as the home of Jesus Christ and the recording of his ministry in the Bible's New Testament.  For Jews it is the Promised Land to which the Israelites came from slavery in Egypt, as told in the Old Testament of the Bible.

My carry-on bag and backpack are ready, with the exception of things I need before I leave.  My travel outfit is chosen - comfortable and layered.  I'll drive to travel-mate Lisa's house here in El Dorado Hills, about 30 miles east of Sacramento, at 1 on Tuesday; from there we'll drive about 145 miles to San Jose and park my car at our friend Cheryl's house.  Then, the three of us will Uber to  San Jose International Airport where we'll meet with other members of our group, along with our leader, Father Christopher Bennett, and Bishop Patrick Joseph McGrath, who will be accompanying us.  I'm not exactly sure how many will be in the group, at least 30.

The tour is operated by:
Catholic Travel Centre, Worldwide Tours & Pilgrimages
4444 Riverside Drive, Suite 301
Burbank, CA 91505-4048, USA
Tel:  (818) 848-9449
www.GoCatholicTravel.com

Although I've been regularly exercising at SNAP Fitness since I moved into my apartment here in El Dorado Hills upon my return from Guatemala last year, I've been arising early each morning for the last three weeks to do some aerobic walking around my neighborhood with my Standard Poodle, Lacy.   We walk up to 2 miles or so each day and it feels like the hills have improved my aerobic conditioning.  The first couple of weeks Lacy was very excited about the adventure; recently she's been a little less enthusiastic, actually breaking her healing command to express her wish to return home and take it easy!  At our 'meet and greet' potluck last week, Father Chris informed us that we'll be doing a lot of walking as we make our way throughout the Holy Land - I'm just trying to be prepared!

This morning Lacy and I walked for just under an hour before I spiffied myself up for 9 o'clock Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church.  Father Jesus, our newly ordained associate pastor, wished me godspeed after the service, as did several friends in the congregation.  I feel very fortunate to have made so many wonderful friends in the short year-and-a-half I've been a parishioner at Holy Trinity.

After Mass I drove home, picked up Lacy and met my friend, Jay, at Starbucks for coffee and conversation while Lacy passed over an hour visiting all the people and dogs there.  She loves Starbucks, where she can wander the patio area making mostly new, but some old friends!


Lacy in her Christmas apron - photo taken in January

After settling Lacy back home in the apartment, I returned to the shopping center for a pedicure in the local salon.  I love the conveniently located shopping right across the street from my park-like apartment complex.

Now, I'm relaxing while doing some final laundry and enjoying a not-to-hot Sunday in California before heading to the Middle East where it's expected to be highs of about 85 and lows of 79 with 85% humidity.  I'm sure I'll notice the climate change, it's like a desert here.

More to come . . .

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