The vast majority of us will never have the opportunity to take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to walk where the patriarchs, prophets, Jesus, and the apostles traveled. Thanks to this amazing work by Eva Marie Everson and Miriam Feinberg Vamosh, however, we are all able to appreciate the beauty and history of this pivotal geographic area. In Reflections of God’s Holy Land: A Personal Journey Through Israel, Everson, a Christian, and Vamosh, a Jew, combine their knowledge and appreciation of the Holy Land to create an incredibly beautiful, informative book.
The first thing one notices about this book is its sheer breathtaking beauty. Designed as a coffee table book, it is full of photos that counteract any preconceived notions of what the Holy Land looks like. Simply looking at the photos, one feels that one has stepped into a different world steeped in history and blessed by God.
The information is first-rate as well. Each location is introduced by a Biblical passage that references that locale. The “Did You Know” section provides historical background about the place and information about life in Biblical times. These sections are full of fascinating facts. The “Reflections” are perhaps the most touching part of the narratives, exploring the effect a place has on the heart and on one’s faith. For example, in Nazareth, Everson writes of looking over a railing at “Mary’s Spring,” a place which is thought to be the location of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel told Mary she was to conceive Jesus. “I would dip my hand into it, if only I could reach it. The water is clear and appears refreshing. Above it are more remembrances of Mary . . . of her life . . .of her gift. Living Water. Without him, Mary would have been just a girl. Just a virgin bride married to a Jewish carpenter. Just a mother like any other. Just like me. Without him, there was no ‘her.’ Like her, without him, there is no ‘me.’” Another example comes from a visit to the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes. “’We only have five loaves,’ the disciples told Jesus. ‘We only have two fish.’ 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 . . .With this, we think, we must feed ourselves only because we are hungry. . . 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.”
“Reflections of God’s Holy Land: A Personal Journey through Israel” is a book to be savored and studied. It provides an armchair pilgrimage to the holiest of lands.