Monday, July 13, 2009

Hiking Wadi Qelt

Today a number of us hiked Wadi Qelt, in Hebrew Nahal Prat. A wadi the Arabic term for a dry river bed that runs through the desert. The last time I hiked Wadi Qelt was some 20 years ago. I had been unable to return here because of the turmoil of the past years and in particular the first and second intifada. Even though Wadi Qelt is right outside of Jerusalem, it is in the West Bank and therefore few hiked there. It was in fact the site of a number of terrorist attacks in the past decades. Today this all seemed like ancient history. It is a striking place. (During my winter visits it is off limits because of the danger of flash floods.) The heat and barren hills of the Judean desert soon give way to the cool waters of the spring fed stream. There are pools to swim in and lush vegetation, particular wild mint called Nana, to be found in the wadi. Hundreds of school children played in the pools nearest the spring. Two monasteries are carved into the cliffs. The square holes that served as the monks entrances to their solitary caves can still be seen. For me there is nothing like climbing these hills and swimming in spring fed pools in a barren desert. It is in places like these that Abraham first dreamed of God--and where today I better understood his dreams. The lines of life and death, faith and drought, water and barrenness, seem much clearer in this desert. For more pictures of our trip click here.

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