This morning we traveled east of Jerusalem to the Judaean Desert. The desert here does not resemble the one in the US.
Here, the nothingness of the desert is intertwined seamlessly with relentless mountains and hills.
Here, today, the temperature was 126 degrees.
Here, water is not a bottled luxury - it is a must.
Here, the wilderness represents a place of testing.
And here, in the wilderness, a soul can start the process of healing.
Parker Palmer in his book A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey toward the Undivided Life said:
"The soul is like a wild animal - tough, resilient, savvy, self-sufficient and yet exceeding shy. If we want to see a wild animal, the last thing we should do is to go crashing through the woods, shouting for the creature to come out. But if we are willing to walk quietly into the woods and sit silently for an hour or two at the base of a tree, the creature we are waiting for may well emerge and out of the corner of an eye we will catch a glimpse of the precious wildness that we seek.
While the desert is definitely not the woods, there is nothing to do in the desert except sit quietly and wait.
Despite there being nothing to do in the desert, we did a LOT! :)
1. Stopped to appreciate St. George's monastery pictured in the image of the desert above.
2. Went to the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.
4. Hiked a trail in the En Gedi, a natural water spring in this vast land of dryness.
5. Swam in the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea is 30% salt in comparison to the oceans that are at most 3% salt. This makes it very easy to float which is what some of my tour companions are doing below!