Thursday, December 4
Reflections of God’s Holy Land (A personal journey through Israel) is exactly what the title describes-a personal reflection. Eva Marie Everson, a Christian, and Miriam Vamosh, a Jew, combine their personal knowledge and emotions to produce a personal experience for their reader. As one opens the cover, the photography leaps from the page to engulf the reader in the time and place of each Biblical location. Beautiful colored photographs draw one to the printed pages of both authors. Vamosh, with her, Jewish heritage and her experience as a tour guide for Christian pilgrimages educates the reader in the Did You Know? section, and Eva Marie lets us fall with her into the emotional journey of visiting the Holy Land. Scripture references for each site visited give added knowledge and realism to the journey through Israel. These verses gave the added personal touch for my journey with Everson and Vamosh. My knowledge of Old Testament history is somewhat limited, and the clear, concise vignettes provided by Miriam are explicit. Her description of the Elah Valley and the history which is hidden in this valley gave me new insight about this area. “Elah was literally the ‘wild west’ and saw more drama than any Hollywood western could ever dream of.” And then she portrays the dramatic stories of Joshua, the Jewish exile, and of course the well-known battle of David and the Philistine giant. Again and again I am aware of the Israel of the Bible, and as I continued reading I was filled with anticipation and excitement about my personal journey through these pages. Though I was appreciative of the knowledge and insight provided by Vamosh, it is Eva Marie’s emotional response kept me focused. After skimming the book when it first arrived, I decided to use it as a personal daily devotion. This method provided me both knowledge and spiritual uplifting for each day. Many memories remain with me, but one I recall is Eva’s response to her visit to the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes. She admits to hunger as the morning meal is long behind her. She describes the chapel with “flourish of symbols” “holy water”, “flickering novena”, mosaic of a bread-filled basket rising between two fishes” and her mind takes her to “We only have five loaves,…We only have two fish.” But is this response that stays with me. Eva writes,” Isn’t this the way of it? We think of what we ‘only have’ rather than what it might become in Jesus’ hands. Not enough, we think, and so we hold back.” And as Eva responds throughout the journey she says,” I am guilty, I realize of holding on to what I have. Not trusting my Lord with what I’ve got. I stretch my hand toward the lump of rugged stone beneath the altar. If only I could place what little I have to offer upon it, Jesus would feed others. Jesus would feed me.” Personal, emotional response at each historical visit creates within the reader a sense of “having been there too.” Everson’s and Vamosh’s Reflections of God’s Holy Land is a personal journey that I encourage for any reader interested in increasing both mentally and spiritually the knowledge of God’s holy land.