|All bove: Umm Qais|
|Hippodrome and Hadrian's Gate: Jerash|
It only took minutes after arriving in Amman, Jordan for me to be blown away by the history, the roots, and the deep geographical and theological connections that this country has with my Catholic Christian faith.
It is not an exaggeration to say that I've been walking around for days feeling like a biblical character in Ben Hur or some other classic Hollywood movie!
First I was on the highway crossing the region where Ruth lived. Yes, that Ruth.
Then I stood on the north bank of the River Jabbok in Gilead at the site where Genesis (32:22-32) describes how Jacob wrestled with an angel (a story and a spiritual verb that I have always related to!). That's the encounter that ended with Jacob demanding a blessing, and being told: “You shall no longer be named Jacob, but Israel."
I also walked a piece of the Road to Damascus, and I stood in the “sweet spot” of a 1st century Roman amphitheater and sang the chorus to the song “There is a balm in Gilead”--because, well, that’s where we were!
One source I researched noted that there are over 60 Biblical sites in Jordan. But in truth it’s more accurate to say that the connections to the Old and New Testament here are countless. And the actual number continues to grow as archeologists discover more priceless sites in their excavations.
Just recently, for example, a team from Trinity Southwest University noted that their excavations unearthed a "goldmine of ancient monumental structures and artifacts" of what is likely Sodom, as in Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis)
I have also visited with Iraqi Christian refugees at a CNEWA community center and joined in beautiful liturgies with the local Malachite Catholic communities, but more on that later.
And I can't wait to tell you about my experience on our overnight stay on the banks of the River Jordan!
For now, one final thought. As Amabel, the Teresian lay worker from the Philippines at the CNEWA library requested, “Please make sure you tell everyone that Jordan is the Holy Land!”
|where Jacob wrestled with God's messenger|