Author's notes: One thing that I always wanted to do was to walk where Jesus walk. To see the places mentioned in the Bible. For some reason, the one place that I wanted to see at least once before I died was Galilee. What is below is the story of that pilgrimage. In response to a criticism: This includes geographic locations mentioned in the Bible, if not the characters. I see absolutely nothing inappropriate in entering this under the 'Bible' category.

Moonlight over Lake Galilee

Even though I wouldn't call myself a globetrotter, I've traveled abroad quite a few times in my life. Most of these trips have been to countries of Western Europe; some for the purposes of sightseeing, some for a combination of sightseeing and singing in choral performances.

Catholics still like to go on what we call pilgrimages. Some of these will take you to places specific to the Catholic faith, like Rome, Lourdes in France, Assisi in Italy; yet, the most significant of these spiritual journeys are the ones to the Middle East, a place we still often refer to as the 'Holy Land'.

There was really only one place that I wanted to visit at least once before I died, and that was Galilee. Even Jerusalem, which was also high up on my 'must see' list, wasn't as important to me as this small place and its 'Sea', which isn't even one percent the size of Lake Erie.

The pilgrimage I was going on was a specially designed trip for people (Catholics or not) who had studied scripture with a man I will refer to only as Father Eugene. My husband has a lot of respect for Eugene, and, even though he doesn't have my drive toward scripture studies, he still would have gone on this trip with me.

However, he couldn't get off from work and this was the first time that I traveled abroad without him. It wasn't something that ever occurred to me as a problem. In this day and age, American women often travel without their husbands.

I found it hilariously funny that the security-screening personnel of El Al Airlines were more than suspicious that I was a married woman traveling alone. Heaven forbid! I had to go through exactly the same round of long-winded questions twice, just because my husband wasn't with me.

They also didn't like the fact that I was traveling with a group of people where most of us didn't know each other. We all knew Eugene, but he teaches in more than one city. At one point, a woman walked in that I knew from some of Eugene's classes. I pointed her out, waved her over, and said, "See, she knows me, honest." I felt like such a criminal.

While I was being grilled for the second time, Eugene finally arrived. I learned from him later that he had his own troubles with the screening process. He is a monk as well as a priest, and his passport had his birth name, not the name 'Eugene' that he had received on taking vows. They wanted to know why he was using an alias.

To make a long story short, we eventually landed in Tel Aviv, piled into a couple of tour buses and drove to a Vatican residence just outside of the New Gate in Jerusalem. We stayed over night there and the next morning, leaving a large chunk of our luggage behind at this residence, we went back on the buses to spend time traveling in Jordan and other parts of Israel, before returning to Jerusalem.

For a large portion of the beginning part of the trip, things didn't really seem that much different from other large urban areas in other parts of the world. Our two Jordanian guides, who kept insisting on calling our tour buses 'deluxe motor coaches', were young men very enamored of T. E. Lawrence.

In order to keep us entertained on the long desert highway to Aqaba, the guides brought out VHS tapes of Lawrence of Arabia. I found it ironic that we were watching that film while traveling along the same route Lawrence used to invade the Turkish garrison from the desert side; but we got to ride in air-conditioned 'deluxe motor coaches' on a paved highway instead of a dangerous trek on camels.

Even though I enjoyed the film, every once in a while I would stare out at the moonlight-drenched desert vista that rolled past my window; and for the first time in my travels, I knew that I had finally arrived to someplace I could call truly exotic. It amazed me how far you could see. As there was so little artificial lighting, even along the highway, you didn't have that 'blackout' that you encounter from lights even in the most rural areas of the United States.

The itinerary of our trip kept shifting, sometimes to accommodate pockets of minor political unrest, but more often due to the flash flooding that could come in the rainy season. We had to skip Beersheba and part of Masada, solely due to these floods.

I was disappointed it was raining as we came to Galilee. Yet, as we came closer to our destination, the clouds dispersed, and the sun caught the still falling rain, forming a huge double rainbow.

By nightfall, the skies were completely clear. We were staying in a convent on what is called the Mount of Beatitudes by Christians. The property went down a beautiful series of stairways and terraces down to the shores of Lake Galilee; but Father Eugene warned us that the property had no lighting and it was dangerous to wander these terraces at night, as there were no railings.

Eugene had been to this convent before. He offered to guide any who wanted view the water at night. I was the only one who chose to do this, as most were too tired from traveling. We wandered the property hand-in-hand until we reached a terrace that overlooked the water.

Eugene left me to sit there as he went off alone to meditate and pray.

I will always remember the light of the full moon as it rose over Galilee that night. Words could never truly describe what I felt or the ideas that passed through my mind; but I remember those as well.

I had wished to visit Galilee in order to find something of the historical Jesus.

What I found was myself.

All feedback welcome, Beth Palladino