A pilgrimage is a soul experience – a journey in the Holy Land of the Soul. The holy sites are the inner soul connections to the divine presence in all things and all places. Contemplation on actual biblical places and scriptures brings the Soul into a corresponding inner place; the outer temple becomes the inner temple (“you are the temple of the living God”) and the physical kingdom becomes the spiritual kingdom (“the kingdom of heaven is within you”). Each step on the pilgrimage is a step on the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) that connects the Soul with its own stages of growth and progression along the path of discipleship (“take up your cross and follow me,” says the Messiah, the redemptive factor of God).
A step in the direction of the biblical Caesarea brings a Peter-like awareness of the universality of the gospel – “God does not show favoritism, but accepts people from every nation.” A step in the setting of Mount Carmel (“vineyard of God”) brings into view the sublime truth of the name of Elijah (“my God is God”), the forerunner of the Messiah. A step past twenty civilizations to the top of Megiddo brings into perspective the big picture of the battles of life that must be fought before the culminating victory of the Spirit over matter is won. A step into the humble village of Nazareth allows the pilgrim to see the humble origins of a prophet who would stand in the synagogue and proclaim, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” A step on the Mount of Beatitudes provides the listener an opportunity to hear the sublime Sermon on the Mount and be blessed with a joyful message of the kingdom of heaven on earth. A step along a source of the Jordan River at Dan brings to mind the Garden of Eden, and a step to the Temple of Pan at Caesarea Philippi (Banias) brings to mind the worship of nature. In the midst of nature, Simon bar-Jonah (“son of the Spirit”) reveals the rock-solid foundation of his belief: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
At Capernaum, the miracles of Jesus are witnessed by the multitudes; on the Sea of Galilee, the fishermen become fishers of men; at the Jordan River, the ritual immersion brings about a transformation of the physical nature into a spiritual reality. Further on the pilgrim’s road, Bet Shean offers a glimpse into the Roman world at the time of Christ; Masada, the fortress alongside the Dead Sea, highlights the final battle of the Jews (Zealots) against the Romans; Ein Gedi provides an oasis in the wilderness; and Qumran unearths a settlement where the Dead Sea Scrolls were preserved in caves.
The final goal of the pilgrimage is to enter the holy city of Jerusalem, where a walk down from the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane epitomizes a journey from an all-encompassing historical panorama of the city to a “rock of agony” where the Christ-nature undergoes its personal “dark night of the Soul.” The triumphal entrance into Jerusalem follows the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa), for the way of suffering leads from Golgotha (“place of the skull”) to the crown of glory at the Garden Tomb, where the resurrection of the Soul and the triumph of the Spirit over physical nature is accomplished.