One of the wonderful things about visiting the Holy Land was seeing and experiencing the landscape. There is an immediacy of place which, with the best will in the world, has to be witnessed for oneself. This shouldn’t be a surprise – we all know the joy of sharing memories of places with others who have visited them apart from us. Shared experience binds us to each other as well as to places.
There is a difference between the impact of landscape and the impact of prayed in spaces. Jerusalem is full of prayed in spaces, but it was the landscape which caught and held me. Our first stop as we left the city was overlooking the wilderness we were travelling through.
“There was a man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho”
“Turn these stones to bread”
“John lived in the desert eating wild locusts and honey” (a Claire adaptation)
The wilderness was lonely and empty and exhilarating. The valleys contained dry river beds but with enough water to encourage some growth. The wilderness looked somehow survivable albeit in a tough inhospitable way.
I could understand seeing the wilderness as a fearful dreadful place but for me it was a place of energy, of opening out, of possibility.
I suspect there’s a lot I have learned and can learn from this physical experience which I might apply to the wilderness places of the mind.