If you read this blog on a regular basis (not just these travel features) then you know that I tend to write about what’s going on in the here and now. This is, after all, my “Life-Charged Life: a journal of living like we mean it.”
So I really can’t skip the fact that I had my first ever root-canal yesterday. Long story short I woke up December 30 with the most excruciating tooth-ache I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was a Friday morning, and by the time I realized I needed help there was no way to see a dentist until Tuesday morning (it was New Year’s weekend). So, Saturday morning, I went to the Walk-In clinic.
- “We’re not a dentist’s office,” they said. “See your dentist Tuesday.”
- “I’ll be in Egypt by Tuesday,” I said.
So I talked them into a course of antibiotics and some big pain pills and headed off to the Holy Lands with a throbbing abscess under my lower-left molar. Ouch.
PAIN: Our trip was, as I’ve been saying continually, amazing. But the first week, and certainly until the anti-biotic got the infection under control, involved a huge amount of pain. But the fact of it, rather than spoiling the adventure, essentially heightened my awareness of the humanity we encountered.
I became pointedly aware of the absence of routine care in many of the places we visited. And I couldn’t help but note the ubiquity of day-to-day suffering, and the unremitting challenge of being human in a world struggling to get just a toe-hold on a quality of life I take for granted.
Leaving The Galilee: And so back to the Great Adventure narrative. Our first stop when we left the Sea of Galilee was a walk in “The Valley of the Doves.” The footpath we hiked was the ancient pathway from Nazareth to Capernaum and beyond.
I like to joke that we “Walked where Jesus walked but didn’t sleep where he slept…” But it’s no joke at all to realize that you are literally retracing the exact path the Lord must have followed countless times. I closed my eyes tight, listened to my footfall, and tried to imagine Christ’s companionship on an all-day hike up to Nazareth.
Nazareth: We didn’t spend any time in the city itself, but instead made our way to “The Precipice” on the edge of the town. That’s where the picture that opens this post was taken. Look closely and you can see the rock I’m perched on. Beyond is the valley. The drop is precipitous. I wondered what it might have felt like to be dragged and hustled to that point by an angry mob; your life held in the balance because you dared to talk about the truth in your own home-town.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read… “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”… “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” … All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
As I stood there, overlooking the fertile plain, a jolt of pain shot from my jaw through my entire body. It may have been the cold wind working on the abscess and it may have been an urgent jab from the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t help but think about the solid humanity of Jesus and about how he voluntarily placed himself, bodily, between me and the consequences of my rebellion against Love.
Jesus was doubtless roughed up on his way to this precipice. But he allowed himself to be treated thus. Jesus loved each member of that mob and he loved with the same passion and pain that he feels for me. And he always refused to anesthetize himself against the consequences of such love.
Jesus refused to anesthetize himself against the consequences of love.
EPIPHANY: Wow. That thought is a real epiphany. It must be time to stop writing and pray:
Jesus refused to anesthetize himself against the consequences of Love.
Thank you, Jesus, for loving with such a love. Thank you for refusing to do anything to lessen the impact of that love. Thank you for living.. and loving… and dying for me. Amen