Today was an adventure out into the desert. We started off with an extensive tour of Masada. Here we listened to our tour guide narrate one of the most dramatic stories of Jewish heritage and identity. We all sat literally on the edge our seats hanging on every word. Our group received another special treat when we found a Rabbi Scribe in a special room of the Synagogue on top of Masada. He was carefully penning the words of a copy of the Torah. He took a break from his dutiful work to write for each of us our own names in Hebrew on a little memento of our trip.
Next, we were off to En Gedi to see the context of many of King David’s own writings. We hiked up to see the springs and rock clefts that were certainly the backdrop of many of the Psalms he wrote. It showed us the depth of meaning when the Bible refers to the shadow of the rock or the protection of the rock. It also gave us further understanding when David wrote about thirsting for God like water in a dry land. We saw how refreshing and life giving God desires to be for us.
The next desert stop was Qumran, which is the site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We saw many features of the Essene community and viewed many of the caves from up close. This was also a great place to grab an ice cream to cool off in the extreme desert heat.
The day ended by some of our brave and adventurous travelers taking a float in the Dead Sea. We all enjoyed some time at the lowest spot on the entire planet. The one’s who frolicked in the salty Sea and its’ therapeutic mud came out looking years younger (kinda).
This is a good time to point out that at this point in the trip we are starting to experience some goofiness from many in our group. It is so fun to watch the relationships strengthen as each person begins to feel more themselves in the company of the others. Our pilgrimage together so far has resulted in sharing a bond that is spiritual and meaningful. It is one of my favorite parts of these Israel tours.