Tabitha was a part of our Jesus Trail 2017 trip. In addition to sharing her wit and smile, she made this short GoPro video available to us.
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.
The small eatery in Kafr Canna is abuzz with life. Some folks are take-awayers. Others, like Hani and me, dine in. Or out, I suppose.
We sit at a table out front. Between us is a spread of delights: round pita bread, golden falafel balls, and a variety of Arabic “chip dips.” We dig in.
After losing the Jesus Trail a second time, I trudge back up the hill to the center of Mashhad. I peer across the valley, stymied. The irregular outline of Kafr Canna rises in the distance. It is almost one of those “you can’t get there from here” situations. But I know I can.
Jesus insists that we do the right thing. In his Sermon on the Mount, he calls his listeners “salt” and “light.” We can make a difference. Our deeds are not done in secret. And then he drops the metaphor:
“A town (Gk, polis) on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matt 5:14).
I wonder if Jesus had a particular place in mind?
The dried seafloor is peeled back to reveal the road. It runs away from me like the pith of a split banana. The creamy ruts of farm vehicles are baked hard and pie-crust frilly on the edges. They issue commentary on a day prior to my own. I’m guessing it was a sweltering one, a humid afternoon of work in the hayfields.
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.
I rise so as not to disturb other sleepers. Three Columbians, two young men and one woman, came into the hostel last night to join the two Canadians and myself already in residence. One of the Columbians took the bunk beside me, another swung into the bunk directly above. I listen to their breathing. It is slow and regular. The single oscillating fan cools the room and helps cover the noise of my exit. I dress and drag my pack out from under the bed. I carry it into the courtyard and set it on a bench.
Nazareth is a congested place, a town poured in a limestone bowl. Undisciplined roads scrape the steep slopes. Some 100,000 people call this miracle-site home, and oddly enough, in a modern manifestation of honking glory, they all manage to pound away on their car horns at precisely the same time. Daily. The city is a perpetual traffic jam.
Linda is not your usual tour-guide. Of course, hers is not your usual tour.
For starters, this tour is free. It originates daily from the Fauzi Azar Inn. And even though the focus of our walkabout is Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus, the tour is not about the churches or shrines or even the mosques that draw most folks to this town.
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.
I step off the public bus in Nazareth. I drag my pack out of the luggage compartment and step away from the curb. The bus fumes away. It is early evening.
I draw a deep breath. Here we go.