Thursday, September 27

This was probably my favorite field study thus far. I was really looking forward to hiking in Israel and this trip gave me a good chunk of it. I really was not even expecting to hike today so it was a pleasant surprise. When we started out at the lookout area in which we sat silently for a few minutes, I got to experience the arid, dry atmosphere at its finest. The air almost consumed every sound, the chalky hills absorbing all voices and janglings of the donkey or camel coming up behind us. Like a movie theater that has the cloth panels to absorb echoes, the Wilderness is one big Voice Swallower. But then we started to hike down the Wadi Qelt. This too was part of the Wilderness, dry and dusty and silent. But the walls and cliffs let our voices bounce quite a bit more and carried every noise to the tour group a ways behind us. It was hot. My Minnesotan skin can never quite be prepared for such a baking. And stranger than all this is to my foreign body is the occasional oasis that pops up in the middle of no where (seemingly). St. George's Monastery, for instance. Where did that come from? I saw both palm and pine trees ( I think they were pine) in one little area of one huge Wilderness area. And to make matters more interesting, one is always walking either down or up. There really is no steady land. I had to remember to look up every so often and take in the scenery because I was watching my feet when I hiked. One false step can…well….the best way to say it is through Galadriel: we stood "…on the edge of a knife, stray but a little and you shall fall…". Well, maybe that's exaggerating. ;) But I enjoyed the hike regardless. I'm definitely learning to appreciate water…luke warm water from strange faucets at that. And this was just our morning….

The afternoon brought us to the oldest and lowest city on the face of the planet: Jericho. I didn't particularly get excited on the bus ride there. In fact, I just don't really get excited ahead of time too often. But once I got there, I was so enthralled! All the pictures I had seen about the excavations and all the stuff I'd read about Kenyon and her bible-hating findings were right here. I was witnessing thousands of years in one moment….and I smiled inside. Jericho, the winter refuge from rainy Jerusalem, the place to go for pleasant and mild days when the rainy season is weighing you down, was located just beyond the Wilderness. Literally, there's hills and wadis of Senonian chalk and some Cenomanian ridges that don't produce anything because no water gets there and the earth is white as snow but hot and dry and desolate….just a few more feet and you're surrounded by palm trees and a luscious green scenery with the a beautiful view of the Jordan Rift Valley. I do take mental snapshots. Sometimes a camera can't quite catch what you see, and sometimes you don't even want it to. Certain things are best left to cherish in one's head.

Later on in the day when we went to Gezer, I was tired and a bit hungry and was mentally and physically ready to head home. But stepping off the bus wasn't difficult when I saw fields and a beautiful flatland surrounded by the cities and the coast and some wildflowers and a few trees and, of course, some ancient walls. This scene reminded me of southern Minnesota and I felt strangely familiar and at home with it all. Overall, it was a good day.

PS. My computer broke and I'm in the process of either fixing it or figuring out how to put pictures online without it. So hang in there with will be a few days before I can figure stuff out. Thanks. -GRACE


  1. Grace,
    what a wonderful hike! I think that is the exact path that Jesus walked from Jericho to Jerusalem on his last trip before going to Calvary! Great blog and writing. Thanks so much!

  2. oh gracie. i miss you. i love reading about your time in Israel.

  3. i think i just posted under the wrong name. whoops. i still love you.