I tumbled into consciousness in the decade of the 1960s. For some it was a return trip. For me, it was a notable first. That it happened in the state of Oregon where both firs and fungus grow tall, means that flower-power, hippies, and leather fringe jackets will forever trigger childhood flashbacks.
(Not to belabor the fact, but my first car was a cherry-bomb red VW Super Beetle. I modified it with white swooshy stripes and a barefoot shaped gas pedal. It was a real rad rig, but I consider myself fortunate to have achieved adulthood without freezing to death.)
These synapses fume and fire as I relax in our “eco-friendly organic goat farm” in Galilee. The afternoon slips by. I rest, read, and write while lying on my floor pad. It is quirky, therapeutic, and somehow, a throwback to another age. Eco-friendly Oregon is a long way off, but somehow akin to the spirit of this place. Or vice versa.
Outside my cloth igloo I can hear the goats moving in their stalls, occasionally offering a “Maaaaaa.” I hear chickens too, or at least one clockless rooster. The horses shuffle in their pen, the flies buzz, the wind tugs at the corners of my geodesic dome. Only the aging labrador retriever issues no protest. Tormented by insects and baking in his own matted fur, he sprawls in the shade.
If Dr Doolittle sauntered around the corner speaking rhinoceros I would not be surprised in the least. I might even respond, “Of courserous.”
I muster the energy to go outside for a walk. Earlier, Avi was kind enough to offer the produce in his organic garden. I begin here, but after a few moments realize that it is picked over.
I walk past the horses, up the hill and out the gate. There I find a carob tree (locally, kharoov), a ubiquitous resident of the Heartland. Its curly pods dangle down in clusters. These are edible, if processed.
Such pods make their way into the biblical imagination. It is possible, but unlikely, that carob pods are the “locusts” eaten by John the Baptist (hence the alternate name for the pods, St John’s Bread).
In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus describes a hungry runaway. When the boy ran out of resources, he “desired to fill his stomach with the keration (literally, the “horns” or “pods”) that the pigs ate” (Luke 15:16). Happily, I still have some Clif Bars in reserve.
I stroll through the modern settlement of Ilaniya. The summit of Mt Tabor (Har Tavor) is visible just a few miles to the south.
I meander back to the “Green Goat.” As it turns out, I am just in time. Avi has returned and is milking the does. He calls me into the milking area and tutors me in the finer points of the art. We enjoy a good laugh. Along the way, he also offers advice for the remainder of the Jesus Trail. I listen carefully.
Before retiring to my mat, I join the inked company of Jesus Trailtravelers. I write my name on a plywood board outside the common room. Pins on a map suggest the that Jesus Trail travelers hail from around the world.
I lie down in my igloo. The rooster is quiet now, but the young goats are still shuffling. I look forward to hiking out in the morning, but will truly hate to leave the eco-farm. Somehow it reminds me of another time and place.
I’ll be back, I promise myself.