A Holy Land Journal: “The Dead Sea is Dying”

“The Dead Sea is Dying”

The melting snows of Mount Hermon,
       far to the North in Lebanon,
              provide the fount of living waters
                      for the Jordan River
                      and the Sea of Galilee.

It was along these living waters
       that the Living Water came…
              to preach and teach and heal,

       to walk and talk and touch lives,
              to satisfy deep hunger and thirst…
                      “and he will guide them to springs of the water of life.”

If we do not drink deeply
       from Living Water,
              then we, like the melted snows of Hermon,
                      will flow eventually into the Dead Sea,
              and we, like Lot’s wife,

           will turn into pillars of salt.

Today the waters of the Sea of Galilee
       and of the Jordan River,

              still arising from Mt. Hermon’s fount,\
       are being diverted
to fields of agriculture…
              dates, bananas, citrus fruits,
              grains, avocados, grapes …
       and the Dead Sea is dying
              from lack of living water…
              its shorelines receding
                      under the oppressive heat
                      of the wilderness sun.

What happens when Living Water
       is diverted into the commerce of daily living?

Something must die
       in order for something else
       to come to life.

What part of me will die?
       What part of me will calcify
              and shrivel up
              under the gentle,
              yet relentless,
                      rays of the Son?

       What part of me
              do I want to hold back
              from the Living Waters?
       That very part of me that I grasp so vigorously
              resists life and
shrinks from Living Waters.

The message that was heralded
       along the Jordan

    almost two millenia ago…
              “Repent, and

        let living waters cleanse your soul,
                for the Kingdom is at hand”

That message yet peals forth
       until I hear and drink deeply
              from Living Waters…

    until I allow those living waters to be diverted
              into the commerce of my daily living…
              lest I become a stagnant basin
                      transforming living water into
              the brackish quagmire of oblivion.

A Holy Land Journal: “Footprint in Stone”

“Footprint in Stone

I saw today

    what Pilgrims have seen
              since Queen Mother Helena in the 4th Century
                      the very rock from which Christ is presumed to have ascended to Heaven.

I listened today

    as Abed told us what Guides have repeated
              hundreds of thousands of times
                      that the rock bears the imprint of Christ’s feet.

My imagination is not great enough to see the footprint…
       my faith is not so fragile
as to demand proof so tangible.

All I see in a depression in the rock.

And yet I know
    that Christ’s footprint is upon this site …
              for this is an Islamic mosque
              and has been thus since the 13th Century.

Here, hundreds of years ago,
       a Moslem leader declared that this holy site,
              revered by Moslems and Christians alike
                     as the location of Jesus’ ascension,
       could be used for worship by Christians,
              even as it is used as a mosque for Islamic worship.

Moslems and Christians,
       worshipping the One God
              Allah… Yahweh…

             the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…

Could such an act of graciousness
       be any other than
       the footprint of God’s love in Christ?

Footprint on the rock?
       Of course!
       For we know that God is constantly
              making footprints
                      on the rock that is the human heart.

And when we see the footprints…
       we celebrate anew

       the miraculous wonder of Ascension!