October 22, 2019
As we walk further south, deep in the heart of the Negev, we begin to “get” water. Or better, the absence of it.
Here, often, you can’t go to a tap, turn it on, and get a drink, or a shower. Remember the scripture that says, “God—you’re my God. I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts.” Ps 63:1.
We visited Mt Negev, the highest place in this desert, 1037 meters high. Overlooked the seven hills down there in the Makhtesh, memorials of astronauts who exploded in another sort of desert, outer space. Their shuttle burned up on re-entry. All that was left was a rib here, piece of skull there, scattered across wastelands.
Then we walked among Les Cisterns a few miles away, seven scattered water holes that go back to at least Solomon’s day. Now they’re is no standing water, but reeds and trees drive their roots deep during dry times to water below ground. You only hear the sound of wind in the reeds here, not the splash of water.
Somewhere along the circle of this 4 km loop is this threshing floor left over from the Nabateans, the nomads that operated along the Spice Route. My name, Vance, comes from the Old English, “thresher.” My business these days is sorting good from better and best, almost the right word for the right word, nuanced shades of meaning in the spirit world. I throw the chaff and wheat high in the air and see what Windy blows away, what stays for the books I write.
A few days ago it rained. Very unusual. Mainly you see lightning storms without a big rain dump. Here’s a low spot in our journey, Tsinim Nature Reserve between Mitzpa Ramon and Sapir, where the water pooled. Jewish families were ecstatic. Jumping down from the rocks, playing, splashing. Totally joyful. They know the scarcity of water. These children of the desert let it swoosh and dribble all over them, faces held to the sun.
Anthony Quinn, a nomad chief in Lawrence of Arabia, famously said, “I am a River to my people!” Even more famously, Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13
Next time you take a drink of water, this stuff that makes up 60% of your body, think desert. Savor what’s in your mouth before you swallow.