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Published: December 13th 2017
For the past two days I have been heading out into the desert to walk. I wake up around 9:30am. The hostel is nice and quiet at this time and I have it pretty much to myself. After a breakfast that involves ham and Nutella I am out the door.
My first day I had only a vague where I was going. I had a map with me, but could not decipher it completely. I knew I wanted to climb down into the crater and reach the desert floor where I would wander and contemplate how Christ must have felt all alone in the desert. I found an intriguing path leading down marked with these green/white blaze marks. Later I would discover that this was the Carpentry Trail. How appropriate.
I had no idea where I was going or where the path was heading, but each time I began to lose the trail there was another green and white mark to reassure me that I was on the right track. I began to think about how God leaves blaze marks in our lives. Like just when you think you’ve lost your way another blaze mark arrives to keep you
going the right way. Also like life, when you first walk a trail you have no idea where the blaze marks are leading, but you just have to have faith and follow.
Eventually I reached the desert floor. I I loved the solitude. There was nary a soul out there and the Negev desert just seemed to sprawl endlessly out away from civilization and into Egypt. My days hiking were mercifully grey and cool. After about an hour and a half walking I wandered off the trail and found a rock to sit on and contemplated being alone out in nature. There was a sandy ravine that spread out in front of me. I resolved to head further into it another day. I would need to bring more water though as I was already running low.
I decided to head back the way I came, not wanting to wander waterless throughout the desert. Climbing up out of the canyon was a hell of a lot harder than climbing down into it. Halfway up the canyon I turned around to get a view of how far I had come. Just then a gust of wind whipped up as the
song Spirit Wind played in my head “And the Lord sent His wind into the valley and breathed the breath of life into their souls.” Feeling strengthened I made my final push home and back to the hostel, where I crashed out in satisfied contentment.
In the late afternoon I went out again to find an inspiring place for a prayer session. I had taken Brendan Manning’s book, Ruthless Trust with me. I found a little ledge with the wonder of the vast space of Maktesh Ramon spread out before me and a precipitous drop into the abyss inches away. It was amazing how the words leapt off the page with a relevance to my current stage of pilgrimage. Phrases like “desert of this present moment” and “life of a pilgrim who leaves what is obvious and secure”.
That night in the hostel was remarkable for me in that I had so much fun meeting and talking to people, but without any alcohol being involved. I was hanging out with these young German girls at dinner and then afterwards I joined the remaining Swiss hiker and worked on a puzzle. We were having so much fun with the
puzzle and making such humorous conversation that soon other people, including the German girls began to join in. It was a truly bubbly fresh atmosphere. I went to bed early, happy and ready for the next day’s hike out into solitude of the desert.
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