An extra day at Ein Gedi

Something extremely unusual happened last night. It rained. All night. And, since Ein Gedi is right next to the Salt/Dead Sea, which is the lowest elevation on the entire earth, all of Israel (well, as far north and west as Jerusalem) drains into the Sea.

There is one main north-south road in this part of the country, Highway 90, that runs from Egypt, north along the Dead Sea and, further north, the Jordan River. At various places along the highway, a wadi will cross. It’s simply a dry ditch nearly every day of the year. But next to each wadi is a measuring post. When there is rain, the wadi floods across the road, and the measuring post lets a driver know how deep the water is across the road. The driver can then judge whether s/he can make it through the water. This morning, the water was too deep even for the bus to get through. (The driver has been in Jerusalem with his family during our past two “off duty” days.) The driver made it through today, at about lunch time. So, we won’t be trapped here tomorrow.

As it turns out, the extra day is a gift. It’s allowed me to finish another book, by the Palestinian Christian, Elias Chacour, who we will meet in Haifa on Saturday, the last day we’re in Israel. And, six of us came across a member of the kibbutz who planted all of the kibbutz’s date trees 40-some years ago. He gave us a private tour of an archeological site very nearby — of a 1,800 year old temple of a mysterious Jewish group. They were into some sort of mysticism. All very interesting to speculate what their faith tradition was … (A real learning during this trip is to be exposed to all the traditions that came to be Judaism, and Christianity, and Islam. Of course, there are many traditions, today, in each faith tradition, as well.)

Tomorrow we’ll go north, into Galilee. Read the gospel of Mark. All the action takes place around the Sea of Galilee! (At least until Jesus begins his trek to Jerusalem.) It’s been so revealing to see the geography of Moses and the wandering through Sinai, and to see the geography of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist, followed by the 40 days he spent in the wilderness. (That’s the terrain I’m now in.) I can’t wait to see the Galilee region next.

About Pastor Andy Ballentine

Pastor Andy Ballentine loves being a parish pastor! Pastor Ballentine took his BA degree from the University of Virginia (with a major in sociology) and earned the Master of Divinity degree at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He earned the Master of Sacred Theology degree at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, with the thesis topic of: "How Benedictine Monastic Spirituality Nourishes Parish Ministry." He has completed the program of Spiritual Direction from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. In the Virginia Synod, Pastor Ballentine has served as Dean of the Peninsula Conference and as chaplain to the candidates in the Virginia Synod’s Candidacy process (those on the way to being approved for ordained and professional ministries in the church). He has staffed many, many Virginia Synod youth events!