1/22 – This morning we walked out of Nazareth through the open-air market:
We ascended the 404 steps (felt more like 4004 steps) to leave the old city and start walking the Jesus Trail.
This trail was organized in 2008, to allow others to experience some of the areas that Jesus and his friends traversed during his ministry. It also provides glimpses into the different cultures that share the Holy Land today. The more I learn about the Israelis, Christians and Palestinians in this place, the more confused I become. I hope I will continue to learn this week.
Today we will walk about 9 miles to the place that may have been the historical Cana, the site of Jesus’ first miracle. Like the sites in Nazareth, there is a dispute over where this may have happened.
Once out of the city, we left the road for a series of farm paths, with poppies in bloom.
By lunchtime we reached Zippori National Park, which contains ancient ruins of what was once Sephora. In the forest, we passed cows, as tall as horses, grazing. I know they don’t look it without context, but believe me, these cows were BIG! See the two brown horses to the right? Same size as the cows!
In the afternoon we came to the Arab town of Mashad, where we stopped to talk to a friendly young man. When he asked where we were from, we said, as always, America (we get blank looks when we say US or USA). Ah, he said, California? Close, I replied – Virginia! Oh no, he said, Virginia is not close to California at all. It’s on the other side of the country. Now, show of hands, folks: how many of you could tell the relative positions of any two cities in Israel? The rest of the world know much more about us than we know about the rest of the world.
While we were speaking, children were walking home from school, shouting Hello! to us. A little boy ran up and gave us high fives.
Our new friend pointed out this mosque, which may be the burial place of the prophet Jonah (Ninevah also claims Jonah’s tomb). Remember that Muslims share all the Old Testament prophets with Judaism and Christianity.
I realized that I’ve been shooting “up” all day to avoid taking pictures of trash. I’m not into shaming countries for their litter, but this place has more trash in the woods, in the fields, by the roadside, an especially on marked trails, than any place in recent memory. We’ve been walking by sofas, cars, washing machines, a bathtub, and tons of plastic that will never decompose. I just had to get that off my chest – I’ll continue to look for beauty whenever I can.
Two blocks away is the Franciscan version of the same church. Remember how much Nazareth likes Christmas? So does Cana! In addition to the big tree, the streets are still lined with multi-colored Christmas lights. Very festive!
Below the modern church is an excavation of a previous church, and relics found there. Prayer requests and money are thrown down the excavation too.
There are different jars on display at the Greek church – you decide!
We are staying at Cana Wedding Guesthouse, run by a Christian family. The mother has little English, so our conversation is limited. The mother says that in the spring, the town is filled with couples who come to renew their wedding vows at the church. We have supper at the son’s pizzeria in town (pretty good NY pizza!), and the family will feed us breakfast in the morning. We are the only guests.
A good day!