In the balmy days of September, it is good to draw breath and rejoice that peace is now in full sway in the Holy Land. Our Palestinian guides, drivers and restaurant and hotel owners have thanked us for continuing to send pilgrims to the Holy Land.
They have told us that pilgrims and their custom enable them to continue in employment, feed and clothe their families, and to maintain a normal existence. We also work with moderate Israeli friends and have persuaded them to employ several Christian Arab men and women in their organisation. I have always said that as pilgrimage tour organisers, we are bridge builders between communities. As I illustrated in my last blog, using the words of the great Daniel Barenboim, both communities want to live on the same piece of land, preferably without the other!
However, eventually they will have to settle this issue through talking to each other rather than trying to kill each other. So, all of our autumn groups of pilgrims are happily going to the Holy Land, as well as to Jordan, and from next year to Egypt. We have also just organised a highly successful pilgrimage tour to the Eastern parts of Turkey, Cappadocia and Anatolia, at one stage going not too far from the border with Syria. The Master, Chaplain and students of one of the Cambridge colleges were the pilgrims to this outpost of civilisation. They are all back safely, having had a memorable fortnight away.
My company's name Pax Travel was chosen to show that peace is what we stand for, and what we try to bring to every community that we visit, all over the world. Our remit covers Peru, Mexico, Uruguay, the Middle East, and the whole of Europe, East and West. Judith and I are off to Ravenna and Urbino with a Pax group tomorrow, seeing how (in the incredible early Christian mosaics) art and religion become intertwined, and how the beauty of the art can inspire great devotion in those who view the mosaics, paintings and sculptures.