Sadly, no pictures yet--I'll continue to work on that, but I make no promises. So, today was a great day! After sleeping a solid 10 hours, a beautiful run in Netanya, a wonderful breakfast buffet [to all you vegetarians out there, Israel is a GREAT place to come and eat! There was even a buffet of salads, in addition to the regular breakfast foods.], and a walk along the Mediterranean sea with Robin, we were off!
Our first stop was Mt. Carmel: it was really foggy & rainy, so the wonderful view was less than wonderful--oh, well! There was a nice statue of Elijah & again, more very sociable cats--Henry would have loved chasing them; but, in his absence, I petted the with abandon.
One of our group read the story of Elijah & the prophets of Baal--the most notable biblical event on Mt. Carmel--and we had a short epiphany service in the lovely chapel of the Discalced Carmelites. It is worth noting at this point that there is a cheesy little gift shop at every single noteworthy stop in Israel [my husband promises me this was not the case back when he first visited in 1977]--kind of depressing, but not surprising. I am resisting all jimcrack [my uncle's favorite word for touristy junk], and holding out for the more authentic shopping locals in Bethlehem and Nazareth. [darling John, please take note!] I did buy a wonderful & much needed cappuccino this afternoon, though: it was cold, grey and rainy all day!
After Mt. Carmel we went to Haifa, a modern port city [very pretty], where we saw the cave where Elijah was supposed to have fled after the Baal incident, in which God appeared to him as a still, small voice [I love that story-- 1 Kings 19:11-13]. There is a church over it now [this is going to be a running theme, I can tell], but the cave is pretty cool. We had lunch in Haifa, a wonderful family-style meal with some of the best pita bread I have ever had; then we drove a short way to see the Bahai gardens and their international center.
When we left Haifa, we headed to Megiddo, the mount from which "Armageddon" takes its name: "Har Megiddo" means "hill of Megiddo." Sadly, they had closed early for the Sabbath [today is Friday], so we rearranged a few things, and went instead to what is called the "Mount of Precipice," a hill that overlooks Nazareth and the lush Jezreel valley. It had cleared by then, and so we had some great views. This is where Jesus "passed through the midst of them and went on his way" [Luke 4], after he announced the beginning of his ministry in Nazareth and was driven from town.
From there, we went to modern Cana [sadly the location that has been honored in the Christian tradition, which is commemorated by two different churches, is not actually the location of the ancient city of Cana--it is a few kilometers away.] However, there is nothing to see in the biblical city, so most people don't go there. It was a good place to stop and think more about the question of sorting out issues of historical truth [where it "really happened"] and gospel truth [WHAT really happened]. How do they relate to one another, and how much does being at the actual, physical place [as apposed to the place pilgrims have visited for centuries] make a difference?
Finally, at dusk, we stopped at the Wadi Hamman--the moon was out & it was beautiful and lush. The wadis are natural passageways [dry riverbeds], and Jesus would have used this one in his itinerant ministry. I was more interested in the high cliffs that overlook the wadi: in ancient times, people lived/hid in them!
Now we are in Tiberias, in our hotel, which is right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It is dark, so you know the sea is there more by the absence of lights than by anything else. All that is visible are the lights in the distance of the Golan Heights, across the empty darkness.