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August 9, 2010August 9, 2010  0 comments  Events

Last March, I met a man who experienced a small miracle here in  the Holy Land. Today I was incredibly saddened to learn about his passing.


On February 15, 2010 my connection with Robert Buchan began with a simple email exchange. On the recommendation of some friends, he wanted to bring his wife, Anne, and himself on a private 8 day guided tour of the Holy Land. He asked for George Said, the same Catholic guide that we hired to guide the Buchan's friends in a similar  tour a couple months earlier. From that point began an exchange of emails that lasted approximately a month, until he arrived in Israel on March 13, 2010 with wife, Anne.  Robert was very involved with the particulars of his itinerary. He wanted to ensure that the program that we designed would  include major Catholic sites of interest because his wife, unlike him, was a practicing and baptised Catholic. It was critical that they journey to the holy sites and experience the rituals  and services that were important to her. For instance, he wanted to  make sure that they went to the Jordan at some point along their tour. We made sure that they were able to attend mass at appropriate holy sites during their tour as well.  But beyond that, he really made it sound as if he was kind of going along for her sake. Nowhere, did he mention that he was going to collect water from the Jordan so that he could be properly baptised with the same water that Jesus was baptised in. You see,  Robert was terminally ill, and  his last wish was to come to the Holy Land.


Anne Buchan inside the Grotto at the Church of Nativity

I did not know any of this. I learned the details of his motivation for travel when I spent time with Robert and Anne one afternoon at the Israel Museum during their tour. I was looking forward to meeting them. I was awed by the attention and care that Robert had put into planning the perfect program for his wife and so I was curious to I was meet him. As we sat in the museum coffee shop, I admired how good they both looked especially considering the long journeyas well as the extensive days of touring in warm weather.  But then Anne dropped the bombshell - she told me that Robert was suffering from a terminal melanoma and had only a few months to live.


I was shocked. Sitting beside me was the picture of health.


Anne continued. She explained how he was very ill, but that he felt strongly about traveling to the Holy Land before his death.  Never baptised, he wanted to be baptised using the same Jordan waters that Jesus had been baptised in. She further explained how just the day before they left Australia on their long journey, Robert was incredibly sick and they questioned whether they should really go. But somehow they decided to board the plane. It was in God's hands.


From the moment he arrived in the Holy Land and throughout the duration of their 8 day stay, Robert felt wonderful. He looked wonderful. Anne said it was a miracle to see him feeling so good, filled with renewed energy, spirit and life. It was no wonder that I thought he seemed the picture of good health. Anne attributed his glow to the Holy Land. Yup, miracles do happen. And that's what it was. For those those few days that he spent here, he was feeling wonderful.


At the end of April, Robert sent me a couple pictures from his trip which I am now sharing in this post.


This morning, I awoke to find Anne's email informing me of Robert's passing. " Rob, passed away on 5th July, at home, after suffering Melanoma for some 6 years."  Among other things she told me how he was properly baptised on June 15th with water from the Jordan collected during their visit, She also asked me to pray for the happy and eternal repose of his soul. She wrote a few personal words to me and then added what is known as the Benediction from Numbers 6 -  "May the Lord let his face shine upon you . . " It reminded me of my father who always recited this blessing to my siblings and I each week at the Sabbath table, and it is the same blessing that is regularly included in services in churches and synagagues.  Anne and Robert's week long visit to the Holy Land was truly a miracle, one  which I was blessed to witness.


Robert was an inspiration and I feel lucky to have had an opportunity to meet him and get to know him. Though our lives only touched ever briefly, his strength and that of his wife Anne's, left an indelible mark on me forever.  It is said that all prayers ascend to heaven through Jerusalem. When i visit Jerusalem next week, I will put my prayer for Robert into the Western Wall.

Tags: holy land miracle 

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