Sunday, November 27, 2011

Old Songs Say So Much

My remote and I stumbled across a wonderful PBS show this afternoon. I had seen part of it before and was thrilled to see it again. As much as I try to at keep up with and accept the trends in music, it is the old music of my childhood that lingers in my heart. This fundraiser presented the best of the genre that preceded and then collided with a young rock and roll. It is because of my mother, a woman of many loves, that I am familiar with these wonderful old tunes. When I was little, it seems that she was always singing, whether it was her favorites from the forties or along with the pop music on the radio, and by a natural force, I was gathered in to do the same. Now I see what "bewitched" us. I hear honest passions, common yearnings, humor, and clarity of voice in songs such as You Belong to Me, Wayward Wind, and Remember When. I don't know of any song that doesn't come with a memory. (I guess our brains are just wired that way.) They cut across time and place and take us back. It was fun to reminisce this afternoon. Maybe my mother was hanging out somewhere near and singing with me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dead Sea Scrolls

In Israel, we went to or near the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found by Bedouins back in 1947 on the eve of the establishment of Israel. Yesterday, yahoo had an item about the Dead Sea Scrolls and the odd behaviored, very strict sect of Jews called the Essenes who wrote them close to 2000 years ago. Because of my trip, I could picture the caves, the Bedouins wandering the mountainous desert lands, the huge pottery jugs holding the time capsules, and even the Essenes since we got such a good education about them. Traveling is wonderful. Interesting to me was that they were written on parchment, on the skin of kosher animals, and in Hebrew, the same language as used today, unchanged. I thought about how much the English language has changed since its earliest time. This picture may not show an actual cave in Kumran (Qumran) where they were found, but it is nearby and one of many of the caves in the area.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reflection and Remembrance

At many of the stops with Christian significance, Bob, the rector of the church and also a Jew, read to us from the Bible and offered inspired teachings.

Nature in Israel

The spreading trunk and fallen edible fruit of the jujube tree, also called Christ's thorn. It is believed the crown of thorns was made from its spiny, flexible limbs.Rushing waters of the Dan Stream.Pretty acorns from the Mt. Tabor Oak.A coney or hyrax as mentioned in Proverbs.
Proverbs 30:24-28 (NIV)
24. Four things on earth are small,
yet they are extremely wise:
25. Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer;
26. hyraxes are creatures of little power,
yet they make their home in the crags;
27. locusts have no king,
yet they advance together in ranks;
28. a lizard can be caught with the hand,
yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Around Mount Arbel

A high place near the Sea of Galilee. I chose to stay back a bit, not look at the vista over yet another precipice, and instead take a few pictures of what was on the land. I am sure I enjoyed that even more.It was a barren, rocky place, but really if you look, there was life all around.
These two pictures reminded me of the words of Jesus in Luke 19:42: "...if they keep quiet, even the stones will cry out."

The only tree up there.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Part of a group at one of the bus stops dancing and singing about Yeshua. I actually joined in the dancing with them. My sons would not be surprised at that!
Looked like Jewish men attending a funeral. Thanks to Jacob, I learned that Conservative Jews place rocks on the burial places to show respect.
This woman was in the market.
These folks who may be Nigerian were getting in the gate to Capernaum.
Walking up the hill. Unfortunately I do not remember where.
A bride was at one of the summits having her picture taken.
This guy was preaching into a movie camera. I don't know his intended audience.
This is Hasheem, a shopkeeper in the market. Only 22 and speaks many languages.

Dead Sea

One stop we made was at the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on the planet. Some of us brought our bathing suits to experience floating in the salt water. This pic is of another group there. The guys have the slimy, black, sandy mud on them. It's supposed to be healthy.

Two Terrors

1. Descending to the ancient water tunnel at Megiddo: This is not a walk I would ever have desired to do, but I did it rather than seem lame. Afterward, I was lame! The muscles in my upper legs (quadriceps) were so contracted for two days, I had difficulty getting off the bus. I would have taken more pictures but both hands were busy gripping the tiny rail.2. Going through this tunnel in Jerusalem near one of the walls - an archaeological excavation. We thought it must be similar to what miners experience. I wish I could say what the purpose of it was, but I don't know. Perhaps where the Holy of Holies was at one time. I know I was glad to get out.

Date Palm

The country was rocky and dry but these tall prolific producers dotted the sandy landscape. The dates are also a source of honey, hence the land of milk and honey.

A Holy Place

Believed to be Golgotha.

People waiting to get in to see the tomb. Only about five could get in at a time.
Believed to be the tomb where Jesus lay.
In the garden, a reminder of God's love.

Friday, November 18, 2011

pomegranate juice

One vendor in the market offered fresh squeezed pomegranate juice. I love it and had to get some. This dirty fingered guy slashed the fruit in half and pressed each side with a heavy juicer rendering about 8 to 10 ounces. It was delicious!

more on the market

I am calling the area of the Old City with the long shop lined alley-like streets the market, but it is also called the Arab Market, bazaar, and I don't know what else. What I do know is that once we were there, Casey and I kept saying to each other things like, "This is just fabulous!" And it was. We were able to go twice. The first time was when slipped off by ourselves. It was pretty easy. We walked to a nearby corner to catch the train, then got off at the third stop, the one after Damascus Gate. After asking directions a few times, we reached the gorgeous, modern open air "mall" Mamilla. We enjoyed walking along and were able to resist the fantastic art and jewelry. When the mall ended, we found ourselves atop the roof that began the Old City and found a palpable sense of peace there. We made our way to some market streets and joined in the fun. I loved talking with the shopkeepers, all of whom were enormously kind, helpful, and took time to educate us. We had conversations with Bedouins, Moslems, and an Aramaic speaking Christian. There is a verse in one of the Gospels, which in describing the ministry of Jesus, says something like it would take many books to write all that Jesus had done. That was one thing I thought of there as it applied to my visit. We had too many wonderful experiences in such a short time that I cannot write them all down. The second visit was a couple of days later while it was still light, and we entered through a different gate. It was filled with masses of local people in what I will ignorantly describe as their native outfits. It was just as exciting.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Back home at last

We took the long way home, but the important thing is that we made it. I got some sleep last night between 0200 and 1100. The swelling is going down in my feet and ankles, and I think I am going to make it. Raymond cooked me a delicious American hamburger, and I am catching up on the news. Although I am so thankful to be able to have had this wonderful experience, I don't think I would choose a tour again. I had mental and physical overload! But tourism is a major business there, tour buses ubiquitous, and it may be the best way to see Israel. Casey was a great traveling buddy, and we laughed a lot and got along well. I hope she is getting some needed sleep and rest today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Some pics from the market

In the old city of Jerusalem, a mix of Moslem, Jew, Armenian, Christian. The Moslem call to prayer is haunting in there. It is also where the Via Dolorosa is and busy as it probably was when Jesus walked toward the cross. Casey and I had such a great time there, talking with the shopkeepers, looking at the pretty stuff, feeling the ancient vibes. I will tell about it all later but for now a few pics.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Me at Masada.Other pics. It is hard to know what to say about a place with such an amazing history.
We had to take a cable car to get up to it, and then there was still a lot of walking to get to the very top. Here is a pic of people who decided to hike it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

the day

Men's side of the Wailing or Western Wall.
Great shopping area.
Lots of soldiers with AK47s. It was explained they are just there to learn.

Today we went to the Mount of Olives - I think - and spent a long time at the temple. I say I think because everything seems to run together. More archaeological stuff. It was walking, walking, walking, up and down slick steps of large stone mostly, but we also walked through a narrow tunnel under the Muslim part of the wall. And speaking of wall, we got to go to the Western Wall or Wailing Wall. There was a side for men and one for women. We got to put our prayers on a piece of paper and stick them in the crevices between stones. I will try to get a pic of it. A really fun thing was after we got back to the hotel this afternoon, Casey and I took a train (free) to Mamilla, which is a really cute shopping area an then walked over to the Old City markets. Now that was special and defies description in this small blog. When we arrived there I felt a strong vibe of peace. Mostly Moslems (I think that is what they call themselves) were owners of the stalls and I talked to many of them. Everyone was nice. I think my favorite thing here is all the people. The Jewish men look so cool in their various dress.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

You don't come for the food

I had to pay 20 NIS (shekels) for one hour of wifi, so I will try to write a little more. The dinner and breakfast at the hotel in Netanya were superb, but the food since has been just OK. We have breakfast and supper buffets, Mediterranean fare, which is not as delicious as I had thought it would be. This morning I took a small loaf of challah, left from Shabbat, that served as my lunch. Good thing. I chose it over the greasy spoon where we stopped. Lunch the first day was falafel quickly jammed in a pita pocket along with some veggies. One day of that was enough. The next day when we were at the Sea of Galilee, we ate fried fish, the whole fish. Tilapia. Once I got past the bones, it was pretty good. To go with it were fresh dates. In the buffet line tonight were blintzes, salmon, something like beef stew, and an array of salad fixings. So far there are always potatoes and tomatoes in some form, stuffed grape leaves, olives, parsley, carrots, an assortment of breads.

Busy day

This had been an incredible busy tour packed full of Israel. Our skilled and calm driver, an Arab Muslim named something that sounds like Mohi, has crisscrossed the country while the knowledgeable Israeli Jew guide pointed out the political, biblical, and historical sights. This is a harsh mountainous land with only a few verdant valleys. Sometimes all the sights run together, and I hope I am accurate in giving today's account. After we packed and left the hotel in Tiberius, our first stop was Gideon's spring. Then we went to an interesting tel, an archeological dig that exposed lovely remnants of a Roman settlement.
We stopped for lunch in a Bedouin area. Across from the "restaurant" there was a little shop with two camels hitched to a post beside it. I liked the contrast of the old and new ways of transportation.We had a really sweet stop by the Jordan River at the place it is believed that John the Baptist baptized Jesus. There are tourists like me all around, giving me a warm and loving feeling. They are from all over, speaking different languages, following different religious customs, singing songs of praise in different languages. It was all so lovely. In this picture you see baptizing going on. By the way, the Jordan River is really quite narrow, chilly and cold but not deep and wide.In the mid afternoon, we "went up" to Jerusalem. Driving in to the beautiful Holy City was pretty amazing. We will see more of it tomorrow, but for today, we drove through it and up to Bethlehem, which in 2011 does not seem very nice or friendly. Our guide, the Israeli, was not permitted in because of political reasons, something like he had not filled out the proper paperwork, so a Bethlehemite got on and after more driving, led us to and through the Church of the Nativity. Apparently the church was built over the site where Jesus was actually born. We spent a long time in line, again groups of people from all over the globe, and eventually got to see the sacred spot which was in a hole. In explanation, there are many layers of history, one on top of another.
When we arrived at home, for the next few nights the Leonardo Hotel in Jerusalem, I think all thirty-two of us headed as quickly as possible to the buffet. I am now sitting in the lobby listening to relaxing, piped in Porgy and Bess tunes.

Friday, November 11, 2011


We came here yesterday. Do you think it looks like it can be the place of the final battle?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sea of Galilee

Did not have time to get on computer yesterday as the day was very full and I was exhausted. Besides no computer access. I will have to tell you some anecdotal stories another date. It has been up early, quickly down breakfast, load the bus, go from one place to another, eat lunch at a local dive, more traveling around high curves, passing other filled tour buses, and eventually getting back to hotel at night in time for supper. The main event today was the beautiful Sea of Galilee. We took a ride (this view is from the boat) and were surprised when the boat stilled, and the crew started singing Christian songs in Hebrew and English. It was great.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Journey to Netanya

It is almost 6 pm here in Netanya, Israel. Casey and I checked into our Ramada suite, and it is simple, utilitarian and very nice. A sliding glass door opens from the sitting room to a balcony where we stood and watched the huge golden sun set over the dark Mediterranean Sea. We have our own bedrooms, each with a king sized bed. I am looking forward to a good night's sleep whenever that comes.
Traveling by air is like being in labor, I decided. It is torturous but with the anticipation of a blessed event in its aftermath, it seems to be worthwhile.
When the Lufthansa airbus landed at Munich, the gate to the Tel Aviv flight, the next and final stop, was the next one over. Maybe it was because we were entering Israel, but we had to go through a really close check of person and belongings there. From Tel Aviv, we were picked up in a bus by the driver and guide we will have for the rest of the trip. It is really nice to have everything being taken care of by someone else.
This is just a shot from the balcony of a part of this city.This is the hotel. My room had two windows. One faced the Mediterranean and the other, the city.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

In two days...

I will be en route via Lufthansa to Israel.

It is to be a pilgrimage, said the rector of the Episcopal church who is organizing it, and I see a dictionary defines that noun as "journey to a sacred place or a journey made for exalted or sentimental reasons." I have not been on a pilgrimage before except for the one that has taken me through the trials and joys of earthly life, and I believe this trip to the Holy Land will be an enriching and moving experience. I plan to post as much as I can on this blog as, after all, wisdom is in its title. And where does wisdom come from? As Solomon was inspired to write in the Old Testament book of Proverbs verse 9:10, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." See you in a few days!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You get the point

This is a little story I heard recently about the painter/sculptor Giacometti, whom I admit, I had never heard of previously. Nevertheless it goes something like this: It seems as if someone asked him if his barn that held his paintings as well as his two chickens was burning, which would he take to safety. He answered, "The chickens of course, because life is always more valuable than art."