Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fine Weathered Friends

My title is not an error.  The W instead of an F was intentional.  Actually, I just learned that the phrase, "My Fine Feathered Friends" originated in a 1751 novel The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins by Robert Patlock.  My Fine Weathered Friends are the 22 Tripsters who have just returned with me from the Holy Land.  Weathered is in no way a reference to age, but rather to the elements we endured and survived - rather well at that.  We were treated to weather extremes.  The waves on the coast on our first day, broke 35 year records. The young man that brought my luggage to my room on our first night, opened the patio door to show me the view of the Mediterranean.  Immediately the ceiling tiles of my room's entry blew off and slammed into the door. Caesarea Maritima, the port which Herod the Great built, was closed.  The Golan Heights had snow which we sloshed through for lunch in a Druze village. Jerusalem was brisk!! Then later in the trip the wind in southern Jordan was of biblical proportions.  We had to skip Wadi Rum, the land of Lawrence of Arabia and the four wheel jeep ride. The Plague of Darkness has a visual image for us.  How grateful I was that we were able to see Petra and keep to our itinerary that day.  The next day Petra was closed by the snow and ice.  As the last post indicated, we had some difficulty getting permission from the Tourist Police to take the bus out of Petra because of the weather.  Communication with other drivers suggested to our driver that it was ok and we did indeed make it just fine. We became the Keffiyeh Krowd in Petra.  It was cold and windy enough that many in the group bought the large triangular Keffiyahs that are used for protection from sun, cold and wind. The snow in Jordan was the first in 4 years.  Jordan is not equipped for snow.  Hanna Massad, the Palestinian pastor who was to speak to our group could not get out of his street to come and meet us.   We departed from Amman in heavy fog which thankfully lifted as we descended toward to Dead Sea.  We were however, unable to go to Jerash, because it was closed by the weather. You might think all of that would dampen our spirits and detract from the trip.  Not so.

Inspite of the weather, we had a really wonderful trip and we are indeed friends-fine friends-fine weathered friends.  There are always lessons as one travels and I am reminded as I think of our journey of the lesson of letting go.  We Americans love to be in control.  Such weather conditions and the necessary adjustments to our itinerary are reminders that there are many things beyond our control, but in those adjustments and in the need for patience and flexibility, relationships deepen, humor emerges and memories are made. It is wasted energy to worry about that which we cannot change and besides it is all part of the adventure.  I suspect that every one of us has a new understanding of the harsh life of biblical times.  One of our travelers made the comment that she had never thought of Jesus being cold. Even more current, we see in our minds eye, the Bedouin people who live now in tents and are exposed to the uncertainty and unpredictability in their living of every day.  We take our creature comforts so for granted.  We also take for granted our freedom and our ability to move around easily without borders and checkpoints.

The weather did not detract from seeing amazing sights and learning remarkable things. Such travel, as this, was transformative and life changing.  The distance we traveled cannot be measured only in miles from home.  We each traveled distances deep within, to our spirit and soul. Jim Fleming is an incredible teacher and the Bible and the land come alive in his words and way.  The lush landscapes of Galilee where Jesus is so easily pictured, a boatride on the Sea of Galilee, the incomparable beauty of Jerusalem, the scents of the souk, praying at the Western Wall, the humble entrance to the Church of the Nativity, the chaos of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre that also echos the solemn melodies of the beginning of Lent, the beauty and quiet of the wilderness, the scrolls of Qumran, the might of Masada, the sheer fun of riding on camels,  the mystery of Petra, the baptismal place on the Jordan, and oh so many more resonate with messages and stories which we will be processing for a long time to come.

I conclude with deep gratitude for such a great group of travelers who weathered it all so very and
I share a few final images from days I could not post them

Welcome Tea at the Bedouin Tent

Our Bedouin Host

Doug and Carol, Reathel and Holly, Nancy and Kellun

Cindy and Corry

Chip and Chuck 

You can never have too many pictures of a camel

Ashley reading the paper while bobbing on the Dead Sea

Rachel being fitted with a keffiyeh

Departure from Amman in Snow and Fog

An over the banks Jordan River near the site where Jesus' Baptism is remembered

It is Joe again on his head  :)
Steve Van Ostran is ordering a burger at Smash Burger at the Newark Airport.  It is breakfast as we await our final flight home, but who knows what time it is. 

With gratitude for a safe and terrific trip

Friday, March 2, 2012

We'll be home soon!

All is well as we settle down for the night before we begin our journey home.  Internet connectivity has been spotty at best, but did want to make sure that folks had the correct flight number for those of us travelling from Newark to Denver on Sunday.  You may already have it, but if not the correct number is 1614, it arrives at the same time - 1125am.

The weather has been crazy, it was a little tricky getting out of Petra.  The Jordanian Tourist Police did not want to take resposibility for our group being on the road, but we made it to Amman and are fine.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Danger of Perpetual Prosperity

Mother Teresa once said that the one thing that the human spirit cannot endure is perpetual prosperity.  I have reflected on that as we have traveled.  Particularly now in Jordan.  There is great wealth in Jordan in many places, but we have been seeing many Bedouin people who live in harsh conditions and have little, yet are incredibly hospitable and generous.  I am reminded that even in difficult economic times in the US, we live in perpetual prosperity.  The danger, of course, is that we will forget just how fortunate we are and will not remember to depend upon God's steadfast love.

Crossing into Jordan, we ran into a dust storm of great magnitude. I didn't want to post the picture last night as I did not want readers at home to worry, but we are safe and warm, just a bit windblown.  The picture gives evidence of the view out the bus window.

This was mid day.

Not to worry.  It has stopped blowing.  It is now snowing in Amman where we are headed tomorrow.

Today was Petra and it is truly remarkable.  It is indeed one of the wonders of the world.

The wind actually has continued and we have become the Keffiyeh Krowd.  It is a handy head garment

Corry Doty was heard o say today, "Where is global warming when you need it?" :)


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I remember now that last year I began having trouble posting on the blog at the Dead Sea and it continued through Jordan.
We crossed the border without any problem then ran into a dust storm that changed our plans a bit. We are now in Petra and all is well. We were, however, reminded today that one of the Exodus plagues was the plague of darkness. Amazing how thick dust can be.
I will hope to catch up in a couple of days in Amman

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How is life measured?

Someone has said that life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the number of moments that take our breath away.  We have had so many moments that are breathtaking.  It is hard to imagine that looking at the barren landscape of the Judean wilderness can take your breath away, but it is true.  There is a beauty to the wilderness, expecially when realizing that more than 80% of the biblical story takes place either in the wilderness or on the edge of it.  It is here that the still small voice of God was and is still heard.  Our time in the wilderness was made exponentially more meaningful by hearing Joe Greemore sing with magnificent clarity and beauty, the words inspired by Isaiah 40 in Handels Messiah.  The valleys and hills and crooked places of that text were brought to vivid life.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Wilderness to Dead Sea

I have just worked for an hour on a post with pictures. As I pushed the button to publish my time ran out and I lost the post. I will catch up tomorrow.
It was a full and wonderful day: the Judean wilderness, Qumran, Masada, the Dead Sea. We will sleep well tonight

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Ultimate Oriental Experience

My Internet time has run out so this is a brief post without pictures.

Today was a free day to wander and experience this city. It was time for me to immerse myself in the sights and smells of the "souk", one of my favorite places. It is a bazaar in the classic sense of the word. The tight warren of alleyways is bursting with raw energy, chaotic noise, scents of exotic spices and the locals. It is fun and I love it. It really is the ultimate Oriental experience.

Sorry I can't put pictures on this because I have them of shops selling everything from spices to squid. Actually the latter is not a pretty picture.

Because our day was free and Sunday, a variety of worship experiences were enjoyed, from time at the western wall in private prayer to a Baptist service, a Lutheran service or time in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. After the chaos of our time there yesterday, I was grateful to find it quiet.

We head to the Dead Sea tomorrow.
Blessings and Shalom,