Today began with a morning run through the city streets of Tiberias. Again, I watched the city wake up. On the docket today, a wooden boat, which reminded me somewhat of the smaller gullets we saw in Turkey. The waters were calm that morning and our captain attempted to cast a net and retrieve fish from the water. Similar to how Jesus and His disciples would have done it so many years ago. I walked along the benches on the boat, pausing to peer over the edge, trying to look down into the water and imagine. I allowed my mind to float away and picture Jesus on this very water. Calming the waves. Reaching out for Peter. Standing on the water. Alive. Here, in this very place. I mean, how does one even begin? It was here, around this water that Jesus’ ministry began. Tiberias, Capernaum, these cities were the hometowns of Peter, James, Andrew, John and Matthew. They are described at great lengths in the Gospels. And me, well I was able to walk there too. I swam in the water. I ran the modern day roads built upon these historical places. When we crossed the lake, we went on shore at a museum, one that housed a boat they believe to be dated to Jesus’ time, over 2000 years old. It had been found buried under water, completely preserved. The entire process to excavate and rebuild the boat took over 9 years. Remarkable. And we were able to see it, walk around it and watch a video on exactly where this important piece of history was found, how they went about dating the wood and then the preservation of the vessel. From here we traveled to the Jordan River where some members of our group were baptized. I dipped my toes in the water and mostly just let the tears flow as I watched. Never fails. I was in the singing mood today, on the bus and at the river, I hummed worship tunes and clapped wildly as our friends emerged from the water a new creation. We traveled to Best Shean, the place where King Saul was beheaded, a town where excavations have unearthed eighteen different cities and the place where in 749AD an earthquake completely destroyed the city. We walked the streets, shouted in the amphitheatre and imagined what life would have been like with the shop fronts restored and open, the mosaics intact and the pillars standing tall. Or at least that is what I did. And I watched. I watched the young adults run from ruin to ruin exploring. Lunch was served by a small falafel stand nearby and today I distinctly remember ice cream treats following said lunch. Maybe because it was especially warm this day or maybe because I love Magnum bars, either way it was enjoyable. Again we had a bus ride to our next destination, Qumran, the desert mountains that hid the Dead Sea Scrolls until their discovery centuries later. Never mind the heat, we saw the exact place where they were brought up into the light. Let the weight of that sink in just a bit. And then the Dead Sea. Our hotel was gorgeous, more of a resort than a hotel. Gorgeous grounds, a pool, gym and access to the Dead Sea, not more than 100 steps from door to sand. The salt mounds that collect in the sea could be seen on our drive but I do not think that any justice was done to this body of water. It is unlike anything I have experienced before. Salty, yes, but the water was this mesmerizing shade of blue-green. I stepped in and then turned and floated. Yes, floated in knee deep, rather warm water. Mud from the "floor" was strategically placed in buckets and quickly became something like war paint and then once photos were taken washed off and the floating continued. This afternoon was filled with down time and journaling, quiet time and pool antics, a work out and moonlight walk. It was this night that I witnessed an Israeli fighter jet pass over. Actually I heard it before I saw it and by the time I looked up I was just an afterthought. At home I've heard it said that the sound of the fighter jest is the sound of freedom, here I'm not certain what the people would call that. Later in the night I would be visited by Thing 2 and a group of her friends performing a Jewish dance in our hotel room. That is something I won't soon forget. Seems they made friends at the hotel and wanted to share in their joy! And isn't that a piece of travel as well; Experiencing life with the locals, learning about their lives, their celebrations, their routines and rituals. I do believe so.
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
View from the boat
2000 year old boat, excavated from the Sea of Galilee
Jumping for joy at the Jordan River
The Dead Sea...as seen from the bus
Moon rise over the Dead Sea