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Judean Desert, Jericho and Nazareth

A Community of Faith on Pilgrimage

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Today began very early. The bus left at 5:45 a.m. to take us to the desert. We rode in silence in the dim morning light, rode down from Jerusalem (@ 2800 feet) to Wadi Qelt (just below sea level). The air was cool and the terrain rocky. We were on the old Roman road that “a man walked down from Jerusalem to Jericho.” Many walked to the edge of the promontory overlooking the Jordan valley and awaited the dawn. Below, Bill Eakins and Mary Quinlan watch and wait. And then the sun rose, blazing in the sky and surrounding Shirley Blean with light. And we saw the barren land that wasn’t so barren, when we saw vegetation and gazelles leaping, and then we sang Morning has Broken and Susan Pinkerton celebrated the Eucharist on a stone altar. A local Bedouin family waited patiently until we stopped praying and then within seconds displayed their Jewelery and called out the prices, the four year old girl crying , “one dollar, one dollar” as she showed her little bracelets. The Bedouin are very poor and they have no land to farm and no place to graze their animals.

After breakfast in Jericho we took a cable car up the Mt. of Temptation where Satan came to tempt Jesus. Rude Greek Orthodox monks told us that our prayers and meditation had to be said in a voice no louder than a whisper —- and then they stood on the side of our cave and had loud conversations on their cell phones. I had a certain temptation myself! I also had an insight. I wondered if Jesus was strengthened in his resolve not to be tempted by Satan’s offers of food and power because the mountain was so safe and peaceful and holy compared to the confusions and demands of the city below. No one would touch his garment, no one would bring a child for healing, no one ask him hard questions if he stayed there on the mountain.

At the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, we looked up at icons, like Audrey Lamy, here covered respectfully as she contemplates depictions of the Holy Family leaving Jerusalem after Herod has ordered the killing of the Holy Innocents (on the right). Joseph has raised Jesus up to his shoulders like fathers of all times do. Nearby is a pulpit with a chicken perched upon it. We haven’t quite figured this out, but we are charmed by it and don’t want any interpretative suggestions from our parishioners.

Mary’s Well is in the center of town, not particularly beautiful or accessible, But it is the only spring fed well in this huge city, so almost certainly the place where Mary went to get water. Wow! Alleluia! Amen.

Finally, you will see a photo of Bette Jane Hardersen needlepointing a canvass designed by Buffy Ineson for this pilgrim group. We all work on it as time allows. When finished, it will be a pew cushion on one of the side aisles in St. John’s, West Hartford.
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Posted by HopeEakins 10:52 Archived in Israel

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