So you are all pumped for the Jesus Trail hike but are a little nervous about the shape of the trail, the limits of your own physical abilities, or the simple fact that you haven't been back in the woods since the Bigfoot scare of '67. Let me assuage your fear.
Mediterranean shrublands ring the Mediterranean seaboard from Palestine to Spain and create the most familiar landscape to the reader of the Bible. Here, winters are short, mild, and wet, while summers are long, dry, and hot.
Tim Cahill (founding editor of Outside magazine) once remarked, “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”
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.
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.
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.
I stand by the road in the wood and wave goodbye to a dear friend. He smiles weakly and waves back. I detect concern in his eyes, as if he thinks I shouldn’t be left alone. Hani is a trained pastor who knows how to read the signs. I am far from home, a babe in the woods. The car begins to roll away then stops suddenly. Hani cranks his head out the window. “Call me, ok?” he pleads.
I slouch on a stone wall near the entrance to Sepphoris. There, on the Jesus Trail just outside ancient “Bird-town,” the pine trees provide some welcome shade. The pack is peeled off my back and rolls over on the ground. I am a sweaty mess.
I drop over the al-Nabi Sa’in Ridge and hit dirt. Up until this moment, my experience of the Jesus Trail has been urban. The apartment buildings step downslope toward the Suffuriyyah drainage basin and exhaust themselves. The ground goes rural.
The bowl that holds Nazareth has a concrete rim. Because of the vista it offers, optimistic developers have dubbed that rim “Heaven’s Promenade.” The reality falls short of this lofty promise. Closer to earth, it is simply the al-Nabi Sa’in Ridge.
The Fauzi Azar Inn is a structure with a story.
I learn this from an elegant lady who knows it best. What I consider to be just a place to spend the night, she remembers as a childhood home. Her name is Suraida and she is the granddaughter of Fauzi Azar.