New Day Herald

John Morton, Sister Fariel, and Leigh Taylor-Young Morton on Day 13 of the PTS Tour to the Holy Land 2023

Day 13 PTS Tour of Israel

There are only a couple of days left on the trip and this is where things get really dicey. As the energy builds and we go higher there’s also further to fall. I love this stuff. I used to hate it because I was hanging on—to the group energy, to the emotional spirituality that emanates from the group like the stinky consequences of overeating, to my own puny assessments of my “spiritual progress” (you can’t progress towards what already is), to my successes and failures on some delusional “spiritual path” (another feeble stab at making God into a replica of a human).

It’s all idol worship, and I seem to recall that there’s a big book about a group of people who lived in this area and were always swaying back and forth between loyalty to God and worship of idols, buffeted by their own “sins” or missing of the target (that’s a definition of sin that J-R used to drill into us through repetition).

The Traveler presents a buffet of free choices, and at the same time J-R has made a commitment to keep the tables of food stocked through the cooks and waiters that he’s trained—and I’m both a waiter and an eater. The energy just keeps on coming and there’s so much to eat, and also plenty of opportunity to learn through the consequences of my choice of what I put on my plate.

I find myself getting tired and a bit sloppy. My water bottle leaks in my computer bag because I wasn’t careful in screwing on the cap tightly—no damage but I’ve got a damp bag now. I have to keep making my photo-idols but I can’t get stuck in worshipping them. I took 1300 pictures yesterday and I now have to face the consequences and go through them all.

But I’m consciously working at stopping myself and going within instead of running around hyper-vigilantly trying to cram my physical body with the metaphysical energy that’s been prepared for us. Somewhere along the way I dream-sourced a genie that sung to my self (with a small “s”), and a somnolent self-importance sprouted, snaking around my talent and susurrating the story that I was going to get the shot that’s going to show everyone my own version of God (which is already whole and complete inside them) and save everyone’s soul (which, as J-R said so often, is already saved), and I could feel myself missing the banquet that was prepared in the Spirit, out of the body. Now I’m working on closing my eyes and putting the camera down even if that means I miss some good shots. God is to be worshipped in Spirit—another J-R-ism.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Sunny and hot of course, but we’re used to it by now, and it’s not as bad as it was when we were at Nof Dinosaur kibbutz (OK, actually Nof Ginosar) and the Dead Sea, several hundred feet below sea level.

We go over the border, crossing the barbed-wire checkpoints into the litter-strewn, graffiti-pocked, Banksy-bejeweled Palestinian area (some bus-window-shots will give you an idea of what it’s like) to visit Bethlehem, birthplace of the master chef/chief. He was born in a shepherds’ cave with animals and filth, and it reminds me of J-R’s childhood in sooty, cave-strewn coal-mining country in the Great Depression. These high spiritual guys always seem get the worst deal in order to show everyone that they can overcome any obstacle, but at least J-R lived to a ripe old age in the wealthy new JerUSAlem instead of getting crucified (he got some bad press but it beats being tortured)—evidence that “these things that I do you too shall do and even greater.”

First stop is a visit to a Carmelite church and convent that Tannis (one of the people on our trip) knows intimately, having stayed here to work on a film script on the Carmelites and the saint associated with this church, Miriam. Tannis tells us her story outside of the church gates, she gets a phone call telling her they’re ready for us, we go inside, and her friend, Sister Ferial, gives us a long talk about the church and the life of Sister/Saint Miriam—but it’s really just a way of communicating her love of God.

Sister Ferial is practical, down-to-earth, funny, sincere, unattached, accepting, full of Traveler teachings that undercut any separation between God and self (a theme of hers is that God wants us to have a full, fun, fulfilling, ordinary, intimate, unconditionally loving relationship with him rather than some kind of pious, posed, perfectionistic phoniness). She’s like J-R in a nun’s habit. Everyone in our group falls in love with her, pulling her into taking selfies at the end. I don’t think I’ve ever seen John smile so much, and part of my job, which is waiting around holding a camera waiting for him to smile, gets too easy—which is part of the reason for my 1300 friggin’ photos.

Then it’s on to churches which various orders of monks, nuns, priests, etc., declare to be the true birthplace of Jesus and where they built their church-businesses. (I don’t remember all the different sects and territorial claim-staking, but you can look it up.) These are still active churches, smelling of incense, with clergy scurrying around, and as we enter one of them a mass is taking place. There are little girls dressed in white with their moms, waiting for their first communion or confirmation or confession or whatever that catholic thing is that they do. Then lunch at a Palestinian-run restaurant-hotel with huge plates of spaghetti, then back to the hotel for a couple of hours of free time, and then a group meeting/sharing with John, giving us some logistics to prepare us for the walk through Jerusalem in the coming days, taking us way high and building the energy for our final leap into the Spirit, or into our own melodrama, or both.

View the Photos from PTS Israel Tour Day 13

1 thought on “Day 13 PTS Tour of Israel”

  1. David Sand You ARE
    DIVINE…A Gifted JOY-Full Presence to US ALL‼️ SHINE ON Dear ❤️‍‼️

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