Pilgrim report: New Hope Christian Church (Roanoke, Virginia).
Thirteen explorers from five U.S. states met at the opening of 2017 to walk the Jesus Trail. The Trail is a blazed course that passes through urban and rural regions of northern Israel-Palestine. Many sites of significance were encountered by the group; these give testimony to the deep and diverse history of the area known as Galilee.
Thousands of sightseers view the land of the bible through the window of a tour bus. A few seek a deeper experience. If you are among the latter group (or know someone who is), I invite you to try Galilee on foot. There is no better way to slow down and appreciate the natural beauty of the Heartland. For those who are veterans of a standard study- or pilgrimage-tour, this may be the perfect way to build upon that previous experience.
Tim Cahill (founding editor of Outside magazine) once remarked, “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”
The Wadi Hamam begins gently in eastern Galilee near the village of Eilabun.
I follow a winding stream through the canyon known as Wadi Hamam. The water offers focus; it splashes across gravel, slowing only occasionally to waller in mudholes. Dense vegetation crowds the water’s edge. It is a narrow passage of brush and boulder, soft willow and thorny jujube, one that Dorsey calls “virtually impassable today” (1991:96). I can see why.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death …”
This line from the twenty-third Psalm offers comfort in times of trouble, assurance in moments of fear. It has been a whispered prayer of believers through the centuries.
We sat uncomfortably in the classroom, rocking from side to side, trying to absorb the Hebrew text of Pirke Avoth. This portion of theMishnah claims that Moses carried not only a hard copy of Torah down from the mountain, but an interpretive oral tradition as well. The latter was chewed, memorized, and repeated from mouth to ear for more than a thousand years. When it was finally committed to writing in the early centuries of our own era, the achievement for Rabbinic Judaism was enormous. The sayings of the fathers was frozen for all time. Future students would have much to ponder.
I descend into the gorge of the Wadi Hamam. The rising sun plays hide and seek with the rocks. It is a beautiful morning to be out and about, pack on my back. The air is cool. There is not a soul in sight. The Sea of Galilee glitters in the distance.
In the savage heat of July 3-4, AD 1187, the Crusader army thumped east from Sepphoris. They stopped to draw water from a spring, presently located behind the McDonalds with the McDrive Thru (Birket Maskana). The goal of the march was ostensibly to relieve the citadel at Tiberias. In a short time, however, that Crusader plan would be reduced to something more primal.
Salah-ed-Din’s eyes narrowed when he received the news. His siege of Tiberias had achieved the desired result. Guy was lured into open country.