May 26, 2011
It was five years ago that I stood overlooking the Sea of Galilee in Israel and I knew our Mom was gone.
The Sea of Galilee has always been a busy, beautiful and meaningful place. Today, there are various areas set up where teachers and preachers are projecting the stories of the Bible. The chatter of those trying to help people experience the place was unsettling to me. The voice in my head wanted to tell them, “Put down your Bibles, leave the preaching, and just be present.”
It was confusing and deafening, so many languages, so many groups, so many messages —mixed messages — that it made me anxious. Anxiety in this place? That’s so inappropriate.
I’m drawn to the water, it is something primeval in me — this call to water. I nearly ran to the Sea in my fight for stillness. In this place, it is good to be alone in a crowd. If only I can escape them — and me.
Going to the water, I walked the carved heart-shaped stone steps that are said to mark the location where Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” And Peter replied, “You know I love you.” Pondering this encounter between two people, my emotions overwhelm me.
I left Mom dying in the hospital to come to Israel. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done. Yes, she insisted that I keep my commitment to the tour group that we lead. But that did not make it any easier. Years before when flying home from Indiana to Colorado, Mom and I cried outside my gate because we didn’t know when we’d see each other again. We always had the next visit planned before the current one ended. To not know, was wrenching for both of us. Leaving her in the hospital knowing that this was our final goodbye….
Goodbyes have always been painful, this one was excruciating.
By the Sea, I struggled and slowly succeed to shut out the world. It became quiet and peaceful. A calm admit
s the storm of life.
“Do you love me?” “You know I love you.” Tears flowed as I walked in to the cool water. Standing there feeling the silt-covered stones beneath my feet, the warmth of the sun and the refreshing breeze, there was a strong unseen presence.
I prayed and cried, and then felt a calming sensation of assurance that we are all together.
I whisper to no one present, “You know I love you.”
The water lapped against the shore in reply.
I returned to our group when Richard’s cell phone rings. He hands me the phone, “It’s your sister Cindy.” Her voice breaks over the miles, “Mom is gone.”
I already knew. She was with me at the Sea of Galilee.