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Holy Land Pilgrimage

Caution: Things Are Not As They Appear in the Desert

February 8, 2019

In our journey through the Holy Land we’ve encountered old cities, ruins, rolling hills of shrubbery and rocks, but today we have finally reached water! The sight brought almost as much delight to us, as it probably did more so for the desert travelers of old. It was like the blue sky came down to us: magnificent and easy to feast your eyes upon.

Delightful to see, but a salty nightmare to drink! I’m talking about none other than the Dead Sea. The saltiest of them all.

Yes, it was indeed an amazing site and beautiful to behold, but it would not bring such delight to our stomachs. And even to go near it would have been less than pleasant, for there are many sink holes around the Dead Sea as it shrinks in size every year.

To find more palatable and yet still beautiful waters we had to look behind us to the mountain range of Ein Gedi. It is said that David, the great king of Israel, before ascending the throne hid from Saul in these parts. We hiked up Ein Gedi following a little stream. It became a series of waterfalls as we went higher. Why did we not stop at the first waterfall, as I asked Fr. Kasule, “is this it?”; because we were headed for the source!

After marching up rock and finding our breath we laid hold of an extravagant site. In the deep recesses of the desert, high in the mountains of Ein Gedi, at the source of fresh water, there came a tall waterfall out of the cliffs. A tiny jungle gathered around its pool. Water was rushing down as if from the very cliff itself!

A beautiful view, but also it was for me a beautiful image for our spiritual journey toward greater intimacy with Jesus. He wants to be the source of our refreshment in life. It is easy to see the first sign of delight and refreshment, but alas these turn out to be salt waters and sink holes. Instead climb first up toward Christ! In prayer we let Jesus lead us to flowing waters and green pastures. There is a serene peace that comes with meditating on Jesus’s Holy Presence within us, around us, and in the Blessed Sacrament. His Presence gives refreshment to our tiredness, our frustration and our deepest hungers.

We are praying for you! Please continue to pray for us. We continue following Jesus around the Holy Land walking in His footsteps with Our Lady leading us by the hand.
L’chaim!

Hank Lyon

Archdiocese of Chicago

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