Thoughts (and pictures) from a small rocky country
It might sound weird to get emotional about gardens and playgrounds- until you've actually seen the magnificent desolation of the Negev, and you've felt the awesome heat of the Dead Sea. Believe me, when you've seen and felt the withering heat of the Sun like that, you gain a whole new appreciation for a simple garden.
|You can see exactly what I'm talking about from|
satellite imagery of Israel- there is life even in the
most unexpected places here. (Source: Wikipedia)
|Passing through Tel Aviv- the pictures do get better from here, I promise|
|Going to the waterfront of Tel Aviv at sunset- the name literally means "Hill of Spring", and it's not hard to see why|
|You will find orchards like this in many kibbutzim in Israel- even ones that grow in what used to be the swamp of the Galilee region|
|The outskirts of the ruins of Caesarea, built by King Herod|
|The modern port city of Haifa- an exceedingly pleasant place- and the ancient city of Acre far in the north.|
It is difficult to think of any other nation on Earth where the people live in such close proximity to millions of enemies who would nominally like nothing better than to destroy them. Take a look at the picture below. It was taken less than two hundred metres below the border with Lebanon.
|The view over the cliffs of Rosh Ha'Nikra. The border with Lebanon is literally right above my head.|
|The view from Porras, near Tiberias, above the Sea of Galilee. Look at this picture, and then tell me that Israel is not a God-blessed land.|
|The site where St. John the Baptist bathed the Lord Christ, at the River Jordan. I didn't dip into the waters- I'm still just a heathen, and it just wouldn't have been right somehow to do so frivolously.|
I touched the rock at the peak of Golgotha, buried today under an altar where the faithful come to see where the Lord died in the name of all Mankind.
|A picture showing the Via Dolorosa- the Road to Calvary- in its modern form. It has been altered over the centuries, by the way, due to "political issues".|
|The altar directly underneath the peak of Golgotha in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.|
Even in the most unlikely places, it is possible to find life in this country. Below is a picture taken at Qumran National Park- also known as the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. I can't really do justice to the awesome heat of the area- it's the lowest inhabited point on Earth, lower even than Death Valley, and the combination of unbelievable heat and extreme desertification make the area incredibly hostile to life- yet somehow, life thrives there. There is a spring near Qumran known as David's Spring, which we visited and bathed in for a bit- and it's a stunningly beautiful place.
|That blue smudge waaaaay over in the background is the Dead Sea. The green stuff in between? Mineral harvesting, fig trees, date palms, and banana plantations. The Israelis are that good at figuring this stuff out.|
|Remains of one of the eight (!!!!!) forts that the Romans built when they besieged Masada, for three years, following the Sack of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple.|
|Sunrise over the Dead Sea, and Masada|
|The landscape of the Negev- the wilderness of the Israelites, and one of the sternest tests of the will of Man that God has ever created.|
*More to come on that idea shortly.
**There is some debate as to whether that actually happened.