Jesus trail report, 2017

Jesus trail report, 2017

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.


I bend forward into the sink. Icy water runs across my hair, face, and neck. The cold shocks the leftover night from my head. It is 4:00 am. The call to prayer sounds in the distance.

I back away from the flow, close the faucet, and shake like a dog. Satisfied, I pull a shirt over dripping hair and skin, and don the elastic band holding a headlamp. I flip the switch.

A Frankish Fort

Gwuf . . . gwuf . . . gwuf . . .

My walking shoes exhale as they press against the stairs. The pitch is steep, the steel rail, helpful. The passage is constructed of creamy limestone, glossy from the rub of countless hands and feet. I reach out to touch the wall. The surface is cool under my fingertips.

Hide and Seek, Seek and Hide

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?

And then I Stopped Breathing

But only for a moment.

We were driving up the road to Sepphoris when George, my favorite driver, began stammering:  “Dr. Mark! Dr. Mark!” (George insists on such formalities, even in the midst of crisis.)

Breaking Rocks, Gnashing Teeth

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.

Nazareth Rise

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.