Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How Could You Be Disappointed?

I know, "count your blessings." But I was disappointed when we got to the top of Mt. Nebo this morning and it was socked in with fog. Besides no astounding view, we couldn't even find Moses grave! The picture is from about a thousand feet down, as we went down the road toward the Jordan valley - desolate land, but still shepherds out there with their flocks of sheep.

We did go to Madaba and visit the church with the mosaic of Jerusalem, the earliest known map of the Holy Land. What I realized today was how I've framed my conception of the Holy Land from the political boundries of today. In the early days of Christian pilgrimages, Palestine included much of Jordan as well as what is now known as Israel and the West Bank. Holy sites and early churches were built at sites all over the land, including Madaba and Nebo.

Speaking of early Byzanine church ruins, I was surprised to find some at Bethany Beyond Jordan, the site many scholars say is where John the Baptist did his baptizing. The photo is a wide shot of the area. Under both shelters there are ancient ruins of churches, indicating early acceptace of this site as authentic. This site is just a few yards from the Jordan River. What impressed me here was the muddy ground, the sticky kind of mud that clings to your shoes. At one point I scraped over an inch off each sole. What a place to get baptized! If it had not just rained we probably wouldn't have known this. No wonder Naaman complained about having to bathe in the muddy old Jordan, it looks muddy and yucky.

In Jerusalem tonight. Listened to "The Holy City" as we rode in this evening and that experience always gets me. How could anyone be disappointed with that?

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