The Jerusalem Wind

From Joe McDermott….

As I post I am winging my way home from a profound pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine, most of my fellow pilgrims having already arrived in Seattle.

I came down with bronchitis accompanied by a high fever as we arrived in Jerusalem. With the beloved care of Mother Sara, Heidi, a local doctor, and the prayers of my fellow pilgrims, I recovered well enough to rejoin activities after spending almost two days in bed.

My room in Jerusalem looked out at the walls of the Old City near Jaffa Gate. The first afternoon I was in bed a great wind blew in Jerusalem. In fact the window in my room blew open several times. Each time, I latched it as best I could and in late afternoon the wind subsided.

The winds picked up again sometime after 2 am as I tried to sleep, the window blowing open repeatedly. The situation required action if I were to get much needed sleep. So in the night I took to moving the wooden luggage stand to the window and tipping it on its side against the window. I was able to get much needed sleep with the window now firmly closed. In fact it was lunch later that day I rejoined the group with improved health and strength.

Before leaving the room the first time, I had replaced the luggage stand. The window remained latched until I was packing the final morning to leave. One more time the window swung open in the wind, the curtain fluttering in the direct breeze.

And that’s when it occurred to me — how much the wind blowing into the room might resemble the Holy Spirit. It was dramatic, healing, and refreshing. As we return home may we all find the Spirit in both loud and quiet ways filling our lives.

The Pilgrimage Begins. Sort of.

I arrived at the airport to find a series of texts and missed calls indicating that bad weather in San Francisco meant a series of flight delays, and rerouting our group, necessitating an overnight flight to Newark and another overnight to Tel Aviv! As I write this, most of us have been at SeaTac for almost eight hours! Rather than arriving at our hotel on the shores of Galilee late Monday, we won’t arrive until Tuesday afternoon. 

My first response was to be disappointed at the delay of the start of our pilgrimage—not to mention the hours spent in airports! It was helpful to remember that we’re on pilgrimage through most of life. Our pilgrimage to the Holy Land began when we left our houses this afternoon, or maybe this morning with the prayers of our congregations, or perhaps when we began dreaming of this journey many months ago.  And so, already on pilgrimage, we’re blessed to have this early reminder that when we go on pilgrimage, we’re not really in control of how the journey unfolds. Like most of life. 

That said, although as of this writing we haven’t yet left Seattle, we have, as pilgrims, had dinner together and prayed Evening Prayer together. Stay tuned. 

Postcards from the North York Moors

It is hard to believe that The Walk is close to coming to the end, so soon after I feel I’ve finally gotten into,the rhythm of it all. We have four more walking days to go, before we throw our pebbles into the North Sea.

Before heading for the hills, we passed this church, and for some reason I felt compelled to take a photo of the sign. Who needs four services on a Sunday, something for everyone? Why not four different services per month?

After several days of relatively flat and–dare I say it?–somewhat ho-hum farmland, it was great to be in the hills again, with multiple steep, vast, wide-open climbs into the rugged landscape of Thomas Hardy, the Brontes, and the Hounds of the Baskervilles, landscape characterized, of course, by heather.


The guidebook promises wonderful views from the moors, of the Pennines, the surrounding villages, and our first views of the North Sea. However, this was all we could see today.