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Posts from the ‘Jordan Travel Writing’ Category

Goodbye is the hardest part.

Tomorrow is our last day in Jordan.

My dear friend, Diana von Glahn, is leaving in the morning for Israel. She is leading a pilgrimage; so instead of going home on Sunday, she will be off to Nazareth. I’m sad. We have had a wonderful time together here, and I don’t know when I will see her again. I don’t know if we will ever travel together like this. I don’t want to say goodbye.

But I will be getting up in the morning and having a final breakfast with her.

Today, we saw Mukawir, King Herod’s fortress and the site of the beheading of St. John the Baptist. Neither Diana nor I are likely to die soon, but we are having to let one another go. That’s hard to do in friendship. That’s hard to do, period.

But she has a calling, a mission. And my mission is here, then home, then God knows where.

I thought of that today as I blinked back tears at the thought of her leaving tomorrow. I thought of that as I contemplated John the Baptist in the cave where he was held. He sent a message to Jesus asking if he was the One. That’s all he needed to know. Tell me again that you are the One we have waited for; tell me again that this is the plan. I can do all things–if I know this–even say goodbye to you, dear cousin.

Behold the Lamb.

Behold the momentary separation.

Behold a plan that is greater and more amazing than anything we can imagine.

At the end of life’s pilgrimage, we  also say our goodbyes. But they are not permanent goodbyes if we are in Christ. The things of this world are passing away. It just keeps happening as all things press on to the day of Our Lord’s return.

I stood among the ruins of Mukawir.

I thought of John and Jesus.

I thought of many things.

I thought of many people.

My priest.

My family.

My call to pilgrimage and all the goodbyes that we face in life–and death.

Even so, all things work together for the good of those who serve the Lord. Diana, go forth to serve the Lord in that unique and wonderful way in which God created you to serve.

And I will do the same. Until later, my friend.

Day One: Traveling to Jordan

It makes me laugh to myself when people ask me if I’m scared to travel to places like Israel or Palestine or Jordan.

“No.” I tell them. Besides, I’m thinking, I wouldn’t do anything at all if I listened to my fears—those worst-case-scenarios. Forget them.

This morning, as I stepped into the shower, it was lightening like crazy. Somewhere in the back of my head, I remember hearing that you shouldn’t take a shower during a lightning storm.

I took a shower any way.

The other day, my daughter went for a run down our lane and decided to take our labradoodle for the run. The cows in an adjacent field weren’t too thrilled with Max. Every time my daughter ran past them with the dog, the mama cows would charge—well, charge is a little strong. They would sort of hop toward her with their clunky bodies while the requisite bull looked on in boredom. It was the wrong time of year for him to care about the females.

I watched from the patio window and wanted to yell at my daughter to bring Max inside or wait until the cows went down to the back part of their pasture.

I kept my mouth shut.

On Tuesday, my grandsons came for a visit. They took turns on the Big Wheel. The older two thought it was great fun to roll down the slope in the backyard, whiz past the Mary garden, and come within a foot or two of the corner by the basement’s bulkhead doors.

Okay, that time I did mention to the boys to be careful and aim in a slightly different angle when they launched from the patio.

The point is, fear is paralyzing, and the things we fear keep us from enjoying the best things in life.

And those fears rarely—almost never, ever, ever—materialize.

So, no. I am not afraid when I travel internationally.

The flight is the scariest part, and that can even be fun. The little girl in the seat in front of me from St. Louis to Chicago laughed the whole way. The. Whole. Way.

So. Be not afraid.

No kidding. Don’t be afraid. Isaiah 41:10

Because, mostly, there is a great big wonderful world out there. It is very good. (Genesis 1:31) Thanks be to God.


T’was The Night Before Jordan

I’m packed.

Having second thoughts about everything, except the decision to go to Jordan. Did I pack enough? Did I pack too much.

Did I pack the right things?

I’m not even sure the flip flops for the Dead Sea were the right choice.

It’s just night-before jitters. Once I hit the polished floor of the check-in level at the STL airport tomorrow morning, I’ll be good to go.

But tonight, I’m battling nervous energy.

It’s the night before induced labor. Or something like that.

But the basics are covered. My bags are packed. I’ve been to confession. I have money and my passport and extra batteries.

I have every tech gadget I own.

I’m ready.

Come, Holy Spirit … because in some ways, I’m not ready.

What’s new? Glad you asked! The journey continues…

A week ago, Diana von Glahn of The Faithful Traveler contacted me. She wanted to know if I was interested in traveling to Jordan with other members of the press. She would pass my contact information along to key organizers of a Jordan Religious Press Tour if I was interested.

Are you kidding me? Of course I said yes.

Within one week, I had filled out the application and received word that I was chosen to go to Jordan and visit key sites from April 9 to April 19. Next month.

And I had been lamenting that I would have to wait until August for the Catholic Press Association pilgrimage to Poland before I would be making my next trip. But God has a way of filling our cup to overflowing and taking us places we never dreamed we would be able to go. Abraham learned that late in life. So did Moses. And now, at fifty, I am feeling the call to go … to meet my Lord in many places.

So, April is Jordan–Eastern Holy Land.

August, Poland–Sts. Faustina, John Paul II, & Maximilian Kolbe

November, Israel & Bethlehem–Holy Land.

December, Mexico–Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Have I mentioned lately that I love pilgrimages, and travel writing about places of faith is right up there at the top of my “favorite things” list. I can stay up until two in the morning writing while on pilgrimage (which I do almost every night) and still get up for a six o’clock wake-up and a day of prayer at holy places. That’s grace. At home, I need a solid eight-hour night.

Well, the official itinerary arrived just a few days after I submitted the application. I eagerly read through each day’s events.

By day four, I had to stop reading. I was overwhelmed by the gift that was unfolding before my eyes:

“Leave Amman behind to travel south toward the wilderness on the eastern banks of the River Jordan known as Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan. According to the Bible, it was here that the prophet Elijah ascended to heaven on a chariot of fire, and where John the Baptist came centuries later preaching and baptizing in the spirit of Elijah. Then, drive a short distance to Mount Nebo, where the Bible says Moses climbed after his long Exodus journey to see the land he would never enter, and where he was buried nearby by God himself.”


I slipped out of my chair and knelt beside my office desk. My heart was full, and prayers of gratitude seemed the only appropriate response.

I have been working out to meet the physical demands of making pilgrimages. I have increased the incline of the treadmill when I work out, setting the incline as steep as I can handle because the itinerary says we will have the opportunity to climb Mount Nebo, if we feel we can handle the hike up the mountain.

I’m going to do it. So it is time to get into even better shape.

Through words, I will take you back to those moments in salvation history.

I’m going to Jordan.

You come, too.