Day 24: From Haifa to Jerusalem with a Hope of Meeting Jesus in Emmaus

Day 24: From Haifa to Jerusalem with a Hope of Meeting Jesus in Emmaus

I woke up in Haifa heading to my last 3 nights of the Spiritual Journey to Israel & Palestine in the Old City of Jerusalem! A spiritual ending to a Spiritual Journey!

I found a lovely place hosted by Rosalina! Best shower in a month! I added my note of gratitude to the bulletin board and off I went!

Right down the street I stopped at the San Francisco Observatory to take in the sights of the Mediterranean Sea and Haifa. The Cable Cars looked interesting but were not in operation at the time or I would have taken them down to the beach and explored the area a bit more.

I was very interested in seeing the Stella Maris Monastery right across the street! Also called Our Lady of Mount Carmel, it is a 19th-century Carmelite monastery. It all started right here on the slopes of Mount Carmel in the 12th century with religious hermits (my kind of people) began to inhabit the local caves imitating Elijah the Prophet. Fast forward to 1836 when the current church and monastery was opened. Three years later Pope Gregory XVI bestowed the title of Minor Basilica on the sanctuary, and it is now known “Stella Maris”, meaning Star of the Sea. My Roman Catholic parish back in Ponte Vedra Beach is Our Lady Star of the Sea too! Just a different sea!

The pictures of this glorious place speak for themselves. Crypts dating back to the year of 1188! And Baby Jesus present in all His Splendid Glory too!

One sign read “Mount Carmel—A Temple to Encounter God Face-to-Face so right there and then I decided that while I missed out on The Cave of Elijah I would not miss out on an Encounter with God Face-to-Face and decided to venture up to the top of Mount Carmel on my way to Jerusalem! No easy driving task I would find out but then again nothing should be easy when seeking God!

Carmel Mountain National Park was only 10 miles away with a driving time of 30 minutes. One last attempt at finding Elijah’s Cave proved fruitless so I headed South out of Haifa in search of Mount Carmel. Driving along the Mediterranean Sea is majestic! I took the first sign for Mount Carmel and headed up the slope with the sea at my back. I soon entered Mount Carmel National Park.

It was a slow winding road passing cyclists along the way. What I thought was my destination was a Memorial to the victims of the worst natural disaster in Israeli history—the December 2010 Carmel Forest fire which killed 44 people and burned 12,000 acres and turned five million trees into ash. Close by is where fire trapped and burned a bus carrying cadets from the Israel Prison Service sent to evacuate prisoners from the path of the blaze. Quite a moving Memorial Site.

Still in search of the mountain top and completely clueless as to where Mount Carmel was I came across the Druze town of Isfiya. The Druze are Arabic-speaking and revere Jethro of Midian as their spiritual founder and chief prophet. TehDruze faith is based on The Epistles of Wisdom and the role of the mind and truthfulness. Even though the faith originally developed out of Islam, Druze are not generally considered Muslims. Midian is in the Bible and Torah.

The pavement turns into a dirt road. I find myself in some sort of park with a circular dirt road along the edge of the mountain top. Beautiful scenic views but definitely not Mount Carmel. Time to head to Jerusalem and on my way back through town I learn a little but more about the Druze and their Hospitality Houses!

I follow signs to Haifa, but find myself on a main road heading down to the sea. I see the Mount Carmel National Park proper but it is not on a mountain top. Lesson learned is to know exactly what you are looking for and have a GPS destination too. I see a sign for Tel-Aviv and quickly find my self on Route 2 heading South. I know where I am going—to Tel-Aviv then East to Jerusalem! At least that is where my bed is. Who knows what I will find in between!

Before taking that left turn to Jerusalem I stop on the highway for gas and have lunch at another one of my favorite restaurants—the Green Cafe. Not the best ambiance at a highway stop but the food is good, fresh, & healthy!

I head South past familiar sites—Caesaria—Netanya—before seeing the high rise buildings of Tel-Aviv! I have grown accustomed to being in Israel! At lunch I did a little research and decided to stop on the way to Jerusalem at Emmaus where Resurrected Jesus presented himself in disguise to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. Names are different now as Emmaus is called Abu’Gosh in Hebrew.

My first find after exiting is the Orthodox Jewish Enclave of Kiryat Telshe Stone or Kiryat Ye-arim which is mentioned in the Bible as the site where the Ark of the Covenant had been kept for 20 years before being taken to Jerusalem by King David. It is Saturday now, the Sabbath and being an ultra-Orthodox Jewish town neither my car nor I am allowed entry. I park down the street and walk back to observe and take in this place of immense Biblical proportions. The Ark of the Covenant was basically the traveling Temple for the nomadic Jews coming out of Egypt on the way to the Promised Land.

Per Wikipedia; this modern community was established in 1973 by a group of students and teachers from Yeshivat Telz in America. Despite the official name of “Kiryat Yearim”, it is widely known as Telz-Stone, after the yeshiva and American Greetings founder-chairman Irving I. Stone, who helped to finance the community’s early development. Our world is a very diverse and integrated, highly connective place!

So I drive on entering Abu’Gosh (Emmaus) proper and see a sign for Notre Dame de L’Arche d’Alliance. Having taken three years of French in middle school I have no idea what this means but I reckon that it is a spiritual place that may interest me and help me seek to find Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, albeit two-thousand plus years late!

I follow the signs to a dead end on top of the hill. Two beautiful ladies, one young and one old, full of life, somehow communicate to me that this is the back entrance and I need to go back down the hill to find the visitor’s entrance. Which I do and then ring the bell and the gate opens wide. Life is good, life is easy when you are lost and ask for help!

On the hill” at Kiryat Yearim, at the top of Abu’Gosh (Emmaus) Village, where the Church of Notre Dame sits is mentioned in the Bible (1 Samuel 4:22) as to where the Philistines returned the Holy Ark of the Covenant to Israel at the house of Avinadav and his son Eliezer.

Holy Ground indeed plus a large, oversized Statue of the Blessed & Holy Mother holding Baby Jesus! The Virgin Mary rendition of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro! Wow, an intact 5th Century mosaic floor! No, I did not walk on it. I obeyed the sign! Thank you Sister for the beautiful tour of the Church of Notre Dame.

Now I was back on the trail to find the place where Jesus met two disciples after He was Resurrected. Driving around Abu’Gosh (Emmaus) I realized how silly I was not asking Sister if the site was memorialized and how to find it!

I never did find the site where Jesus met two disciples after He was Resurrected

Onward to Jerusalem to find my bed for the next three nights inside the walls of the Old City at the Christ Church Guesthouse. This being my fourth journey to Jerusalem, the last two weeks ago, also arriving on a Saturday Sabbath.

If coming to Israel and Palestine was a Spiritual Journey, then staying in the Guesthouse at Christ Church inside the walls of the Old City was the Spiritual Journey to Heaven, This was the first church built in the Holy Land in 1849 during a 700-plus year period of Islamic rule (Mamluks 1267 to the British in 1917 after WWII). Christ Church which was originally part of a British Consulate and its Guesthouse is located literally across the street from the Palace of King David and likely earlier King Herod. Once the empty field where the camels of the Magi rested and were watered when the Magi came to see King Herod on their way to pay homage to Baby Jesus in nearby Bethlehem.

There is a lot more of history, religion, and spirituality to take in over the next three days. Arriving after dark I took a stroll to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Then I passed by a Shishkebab restaurant which reminded me of my Dad because he used that word all the time. I chose Al Sultan Restaurant and Cafe and had a wonderful dinner of sheep cheese fried, a falafel, and baklawa and Arabic Coffee for dessert. Maybe you can read my fortune in the bottom of my coffee cup?

From Haifa to Jerusalem by way of Mount Carmel (kind of), a Druze Village and Abu’Gosh (Emmaus) it was another full and rewarding day on the Spritual Journey to Israel and Palestine! In a way I did meet up with Jesus in Emmaus!

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