On our way, we drove through Cana.
My impression of Nazareth was different than all the other places we visited. It had become an Arab town. The Hebrew script disappeared to make way for only Arabic script. The signs to Nazareth got us so far, then there were none. We ended up needing to go one direction, based on the information from the local we stopped to ask, but had to go down a back road to get there. Soon, we were in bumper-to-bumper traffic, on a road just wide enough for the two directions of traffic. We began to see the other side of life. Not buildings. Not archaeology. But people. We crept so slowly that we could peer into barber shops, homes, into the life of this run-down town. The roads were so curvy and bumpy, we concluded that these were no doubt the original roads that the boy/teen Jesus would have walked...just new pavement. We saw two boys in an angry fist-fight, until an older brother stepped in and pulled them apart. Each of these people have struggles, day-in-day-out lives about which I know nothing. There seemed to be no Jesus anywhere, and yet, this was his hometown. CC commented that Jesus likely knew these streets like the back of His hand. I thought many times of Nathaniel's comment, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" and wondered at the striking irony of this being the most run-down, needy place we had seen. Jesus truly identified with humanity in every way possible.
Finally, we found an outlet to the endless car shuffling. CC parked, and we got out to wander through the town. A massive Catholic church was there. It was built over the spot that is believed to have been where Gabriel spoke to Mary. A Byzantine church was there, then a church from the Crusades was built. This one was erected in 1969.
Inside contained beautiful stained glass. Each piece was donated from a different country, one from each Catholic nation in the world. I read after-the-fact that one piece donated contained diamonds.
Just as we were heading out of town, I heard church bells. For the first time in many years, I heard bells along with the call to prayer. It was so beautiful, I stopped to listen until they were done.
We found our way back out in the car, compass in hand, and made our way back to our cottage just as the sun was setting. It was a full day, we had seen a lot, and we had much to ponder.