PART 3 2012 AMC SAB-Large
I had some fun during these last few days in Ireland creating three final videos from my time in Ireland. “Brief Ride In Connemara” offers some sense of what it feels like to experience remote Ireland from the seat of a motorcycle.
This, the final chapter of a journey that though well planned brought the unexpected. Did I mention missing my connecting flight in Bucharest due to a nap and the failure to note a time zone change?
Friends in Essex, MA have a quaint, rustic cottage in a remote setting in the southwest of Ireland. Its proven to be a perfect venue to prepare a return to Ipswich.
Been reading some collected short stories of W. Somerset Maugham.
In one story the narrator begins by describing his longing for an occasion to spend one week in complete idleness. “Time, because it is so fleeting, because it is beyond recall, is the most precious of human goods and to squander it is the most delicate form of dissipation in which a person can indulge.”
I am grateful for being given this final week to be quiet here, quiet and idle, doing what comes next. Images from the last four months now merge together with images of a return home. I have been away and glad for it. I now prepare for home and I’m equally glad for it.
May the places where we have wandered curiously these past months add a peaty fuel to the journey we continue together, with such love to share that we need several baskets to gather up the leftovers.
Here is a brief blog post until I can stop in my path soon and send more. Ireland is truly, truly beautiful and happy and welcoming.
My brother, Craig , and I have been traveling the entire country on motorcycles which turns out to be an ideal way to explore this marvelous land.
The roads are smooth and mostly clear of anyone but stray sheep and the roads wind us through one real life postcard and into another. It becomes hard to enjoy the amazingly fun roads on the motorcycle because I am constantly wanting to stop and take a picture.
The days are 12 in counting until I leave Ireland and return to the States and soon thereafter return to my loving community at AMC.
More soon, but this for now!
Having walked from Tiberius to Bethsaida as the first leg of my circumnavigation of the Sea of Galilee (can’t any explorer use that term?), covering the 9 to 12 portion of the clock’s face, yesterday I started early, before sunrise, to cover the 12 to 3 part of the lake. A neighborhood of what I took to be the Jewish version of our local groundhog came out of their holes to watch me pass by.
I was in search of “The Jesus Trail” and before long was on the trail not knowing how many junctions of indecision lay ahead. Signage on this trail is something like Massachusetts, not completely reliable. I suspect I added at least 5 miles to my walk for having gotten lost repeatedly. At one point I found myself in a towering field of what looked to me like bamboo. Maybe something more like what was used to send Moses down the Nile. I took along plenty of water this time and a mango that was the most juicy, refreshing fruit ever tasted by about 10AM when I stopped in a shade for a needed break after walking for 4 hours and having just waded through a small river. By mid-day, I had made it to the site that tradition regards as the place where Jesus healed the madman by casting out his demons and using them to create what we know today as “deviled ham” (I know, sorry, kinda had to). The remains of a church from the Byzantine period are there to see and presumably, in the time of Jesus, this may have been the site of a synagogue. I got the “3” position of the clock of the lake by about 5PM, a place called Ein Gev which borders the Golan Heights, a name you may remember from a conflicted period in Israel’s history. There are fields nearby of unexploded land mines from that war with signs posted. A good thing because I have gotten pretty good at hopping over barb-wired fences. Fear not, concerned among us…from now on, I will be sure to throw a rock ahead of me before I leap. Just kidding! A day of rest here. It is the Shabbat, after all. Tomorrow I will walk to the 6 o’clock part of the lake and by Monday, Tuesday at the latest, be back at Tiberius, or 9 o’clock, having completed my circumnavigation (why miss my last use ever of that term?). From there, will bus back to Jerusalem for a possible overnight lock-in at Church of the Holy Sepulchre. You can actually do that. They turn the key and lock you in until 4:30 in the morning when a Greek Orthodox priest, as has been the custom for millennia, comes with the key. You can sign up to keep vigil in that very place where Jesus died, was buried, and rose. Sacred conclusion to a once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
After a modest hostel breakfast in Tiberius (a town, despite its place in biblical history, that felt a tad depressing to me), travelling light, I headed north on foot along the Sea of Galilee yesterday morning. It’s hot here and there has not been rain, as usual for this time of year, for months. I am grateful for my Lawrence of Arabia style hat that covers my neck and ears. Still, the heat of the sun is intense. My plan was to head along the shore of the lake and walk about 10 miles to my first overnight spot just this side of Capernuam. The trail was confusing at first, as I slowly gathered that there was not one but several, all intersecting at various points. I was following, or trying to follow, “The Jesus Trail.” All trails have painted markers appearing on rocks and fence posts. I was looking for a white-orange-white marker and was happy to find it and stick to it. Still, nice to know there is no getting lost with the Sea of Galilee always to your right.
Perhaps because of the time of year, there are few, count them, three, people who were walking the trail yesterday. I had read about the Sea of Galilee dropping its water level each year. A large part of the reason has to do with the demand for irrigation. There are rows and rows of carefully planted banana trees, and other fruit trees, all along the shore. These fruits are exported and take with them water that is not being replenished. A practice that is unsustainable. This photo below shows the fruit trees covered with mesh and the power source in the foreground needed to run the irrigation pumps.
My walk took me by some wildlife. There are quite a few birds in the area, more they say in the spring as this valley is a major corridor for migration. Halfway through my walk (did I mention that I overshot my next place to stay in Capernaum and so decided to keep on walking foolishly to Bethsaida?), and in dear need of an oasis, I found a national park in Capernaum right on the lake to rest, drink water, and hope and pray I did not have much further to go.
One thing you come to appreciate early on when traveling about the is part of the world are the layers of civilization here, one built upon the other, sometimes as many at 20 layers!!! So on this walk there is evidence of Hebrew, Roman, Persian, Byzantine, and Ottoman civilizations having been here. Here below is what remains of an Ottoman bridge which now appears across a dried river bed in a field.
So the walk continued toward Bethsaida and my home for the night, The Sea of Galilee Guest House. Only it was still a fair distance away, given that I was feeling desperate for something as simple, but lovely, as the shade of a tree. The last few miles required a long walk up a considerably steep long highway road. As I began to consider lying down in the road like a possum in hopes of someone stopping out of curiosity, out of the blue two friends of mine from St. George’s College drove by, the same two who had driven me to Tiberius by way of Nazareth where they would both be staying for three days. What an unbelievable Godsend! They got me to the Guest House where I proceeded to enjoy a cold shower fully dressed, followed by a three hour nap. I will stay here today without moving, as I am a day ahead of schedule and could use the time to read and rest. Tomorrow I will head to Kursi, again on foot, by way of the traditional site of the exorcism story in which Jesus casts out multiple demons from a man living among the tombs and into a herd of pigs.
That’s the latest from the dusty trail. What a challenging place to live and persevere in speaking a word of grace to others. Walking in the footsteps of Jesus, or at least alongside at a distance, takes stamina and some hope that divine assistance will arrive in time.
By the way, if you click directly on the photos they will enlarge beautifully.