Our fearless leader, Bev, told us we had to bring swimsuits so we could all float in the Dead Sea. No exceptions.
Bev is a small woman. Bev doesn’t get it. Plus-size women float in any sea—the Red Sea, the Black Sea, the Dead Sea, the Living Sea. Big girls are nothing if not buoyant!
I managed to find a modest swimsuit in my size. The name of this bright floral creation? “Blue Wahoo.” As a sister on Facebook said, “At least they didn’t call it ‘Big Kahuna.’” Thank you, Lord.
What a strange sensation, floating in that water. Ten times saltier than the ocean, it felt like baby oil on our skin. Floating was easy. Trying to stand? Not so much. It took about four people to help me get back on my feet, in part because our bodies were so slippery, but mostly because I was laughing so hard.
Then it was back to the beach so we could slather Dead Sea mud all over our bodies. Full of minerals, this goop is really good for your skin and feels like chocolate silk pie. Bev soon dubbed us “Sisters of the Mud,” as we all waded back into the sea together like some strange tribe performing an ancient ritual.
Beloved, if you think I’m going to show you any more of me than this, wearing my Blue Wahoo bathing suit, that is so not happening. Just use your imagination. Okay, maybe not.
Masada was next, ascending by cable car. I know—wimpy, wimpy, wimpy—but those 800+ steps in the heat were too daunting for this crew.
It was a much larger area than most of us had imagined, a vast desert fortress where a group of zealous Jews took their courageous last stand in 72 A.D. Portions of Herod’s elaborate palace are still there—built as a just-in-case refuge—and the ruins of the original Roman camp are visible as well. Talk about history coming alive!
Our next stop was the oasis at Ein Gedi, where David fled from Saul and wrote, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1 To be honest I’d pictured more water or more trees, but in the middle of a desert, near a salty Dead Sea, even a drop of fresh water would have been welcome.
While there we considered the story of David and Bathsheba from 2 Samuel 11:1-4, then continued north to Jericho, where we saw the Zacchaeus tree. Hmmm. It was a very old tree, but I’m thinking not 2,000 years old. Then we spent time with Rahab under a waxing moon as we looked at Joshua 2:1-21 and 6:1-25, before climbing the road toward Jerusalem.
We got our first glimpse of the place with “The Holy City” blasting on the motor coach CD player, and then I read Psalm 22 with a lump in my throat. “Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem…”