Today was Petra…need I say more? It is not without good reason that this is one of the seven wonders of the world! We left at 8:30 in the morning and by the time I came home after 6:30pm I had walked more that 12 miles. We traversed the Siq, a natural fissure between two mountains that led into the heart of Petra. The joy and awe of the group was palpable when we reached the spot where the Treasury first became visible through a cleft in the rocks. Then we saw the Treasury in all of its glory…and could almost imagine Indiana Jones riding his horse past its entrance. Actually the Treasury was not a treasury at all, but a tomb for a wealthy and well positioned man…but that in no way diminishes its grandeur.
After the Treasury we continued the tour with our able guide Naiem telling us about the various aqueducts, cisterns, and dams used to bring an ample supply of water to this desert city. We also saw the hooks that hung the streetlights, the tombs with steps down from and up to the heavens, and even a carved camel caravan on the wall of the Siq that is evidenced now only by the merchant and the camels’ feet.
After lunch, we made our way up to the Monastery at the “Top,” another tomb that had been converted into a Byzantine church. That was a hike that took a few hours up and down the highest mountains in the region and provided great views of a Grand Canyon that though not “the” Grand Canyon, it was a grand canyon anyway. We could even see into Israel to the places where we will be traveling tomorrow.
After the Monastery we visited a 6th century Byzantine church and a series of elaborate and ostentatious tombs one of which had been converted into a church. By the time we made it home I had more than 33,300 steps for the day and very sore legs.
Dinner was filled with tales of Bruce McIntyre jumping off his donkey in fear and then seeing a boy and his donkey fall off a cliff (both were alright because apparently the boy broke the donkey’s fall), our 84 year old Joyce Tipton who out ran everyone on the climbs up the mountains, and a host of other stories of interest. Our two casualties were Sally Herlong who had a tumble down the descent from the Monastery and bruised her foot and Bruce who slipped and fell bruising his pride. They are both well.
After dinner and a wonderful few moments on the roof in fellowship in the cold evening breezes sipping warm mint tea, I went downstairs and with Marina Ghaly met a wonderful artist, Hussein Amarat who made art in bottles using sand as his medium. His works were stellar. I even bought one for my Bird. Marina even made a piece of sand art under Hussein’s careful guidance.
Pray for us as tomorrow we cross into a land divided not just along class and status lines, but by religion, and oppression, and hatred, because of differences of ethnicity and religion. The conflict in Israel and Palestine is one of the most significant factors hindering world peace. This hundred year old crisis, the product not of biblical enmity, but of colonialist power struggles shapes the politics of the world and we are entering into that realm tomorrow to seek to find a deeper understanding of peace, and Love, and God in this hotbed of political intrigue. Pray that we are safe, that all goes well, and that the magic of this trip will persist into Jesus’ homeland. Please, please pray for us…
Dr. Rodney Sadler is Associate Professor of Bible.
(Photos by Rodney Sadler and Amanda Kathryn Hill)