Ah, the contradictions of the land of Israel. A land of friendly people, a land of irate drivers. A land of lush green pastures, a land of harsh desert. A land full of life, a land which has known death. A land of living water, a land of the Dead Sea. A land with the snow-capped peaks of Hermon, a land with the lowest point on God’s globe. These are the contradicitions of this land.
This morning began with rain – a cold damp rain, soaking Jerusalem. Thankfully, our day of touring was not happening in the city, but down at the Dead Sea. During our hour long trip to the Dead Sea, the rain stopped, the clouds lifted and the temperature warmed. Mind you, the wind was blowing, and the temperature atop Masada was as cold as I have ever felt it. We had to take shelter in a ritual bath (don’t worry, it’s out of use), and then in a Herodian water cistern, capable of holding tens of thousands of cubic liters of water.
From Masada we lunched at En Gedi and then enjoyed a bob in the Dead Sea, complete with a mud lather. My skin feels smooter, for certain, but I don’t feel any younger. Too bad the Dead Sea didn’t have a mud pack for cellulite and the old spare tire! Then a stop over at Qumran, to view the caves where the single most important archeological discovery in recent times was made – the Dead Sea Scrolls.
We then made our way back to Jerusalem, with a compulsory shop-stop coming and going. You are never far away from a capitalist here in Israel. We saw the Ahava factory and outlet, and were told about the renewing properties of the products they make. “Two shekels for you” “5 hats for $10” “3 scarves for $10” “Almost free for you!” These are the constant refrain of the shops of this part of the world. All you need is an obedient camel, and you can begin the task of helping tourists part with thier money. These enterpreneurs know how to wrestle every last dollar from a tourists pockets – and more power to them! Capitalism is alive and well in Israel!
Thanks for praying me while I have been here. I am tired – too much sun (is that possible!), too little rest and the constant travel seems to be taking a toll. But, you who are freezing in sub zero temperatures, and struggling through the daily routines, are sure not interested in hearing it.
All I can say is that the more you come to this land – the more you love it. It seems to be true that once you come here you are never the same. You can get a person out of Israel, but once you have been here, it’s hard to get Israel out of you.
Herb the Pastor