Friday, November 20, 2009

Israel Day 2

I am beyond excited to share the Wilderness of Zin with my friends and fellow writers. Joe says he has never been where we are going either, which really surprises me. This has been the big mystery: how anyone could possibly come to Israel and skip the desert. After all, this is a metaphorical event of leaving behind the desert and coming into the promise. This is also where Jesus began his ministry, near where he was baptized. Where John called out for repentance and where Elijah and Elisha crossed the Jordan one way and Joshua crossed it the other.

But so many Christians want to begin their pilgrimage in Galilee where Jesus spent the majority of his ministry, they totally forget where it all began. Miriam introduced me to this concept years ago, I introduced it to Joe (IMOT) and now we are going to introduce it to these five journalists traveling with us.

Nahal Zin/Ein Avdat is also the place where David ben Gurion is buried. We stop at his grave first. Several groups of IDF (Israel Defense Forces) grads are about to have their ceremony. Family members gather near ben Gurion's grave. Flags fly. Young people decked in green mill about. Young men stand in attention with the mountains of the desert as their backdrop. Before them is a table with M-16s and Bibles. A gun and a sword. How can they go wrong?

Our group feels privileged to witness this. We are also surprised to know that male soldiers have female soldiers for superiors. "If they can deal with this," Miriam quips, "they can get through anything."

Our group places stones on ben Gurion's grave -- the Jewish equivalent to flowers -- then walks over to a stone wall where we take photos of the land before us ... the land we are about to venture in to. I hear declarations of how impressive it is.

They have no idea.

(photo at bottom shows David ben Gurion's grave in foreground with graduating soldiers between it and the Desert of Zin.)

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