‘It is not surprising that these ancient Churches are grouchy and competitive’

16 April 2014 | by Sara Maitland

I am just back from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I have never been before and I am still feeling overwhelmed. This is partly simple weariness; it is a pretty tiring itinerary anyway, and in addition there was the novel (at least in recent years) experience of spending so much time with a collection of people I had never met before, in the odd intimacy of group travel.It is partly the disorientating business of being somewhere I have imagined (and prayed from that imagination) for so long and found that my imagination was entirely wrong. Galilee, for instance, at least in late March, is very green, fertile, sweet – it is not meant to be “pretty”. The River Jordan is too narrow and full of murky yellow water – those Renaissance painters have a lot to answer for. An

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