Oct 8, 2016

Jordan Pilgrimage: When Pigs Fly

On a beautiful day in Jordan, my fellow pilgrims and I toured two Biblical sites, some ancient ruins, and worshipped at the Anglican Church of the Redeemer in Amman.

One of the things I've been so taken with here is that these ancient sites are not given the Graceland treatment. Let me explain. After college a group of us decided we needed to make another sort of pilgrimage, to see another sort of King, so we road tripped down to Memphis. What struck me, besides the whole remarkable cult of Elvis, was that every single display from the car collection to his airplanes to the Graceland mansion itself, led directly into a gift shop. Where else could you find "Love Me Tender Shampoo?"

The sites we've encountered so far in Jordan are completely un-commercialized. An American businessman would be horrified at the lost attempt to "monetize" these holy sites. At the Jabbok river, the site where Jacob wrestled an angel, there was no entry fee and barely even a sign. You couldn't purchase pens in the shape of a "hip socket" or plastic cups that read "Jacob" until they're filled up at which point they miraculously change to "Israel."

It was just us and the incredible terrain that jumped off the page after re-reading the story in Genesis. A cool stream, a steep bank, and the mysterious presence of the divine.

Ditto with Gedara, one of the cities of the Decapolis and the site of Jesus' profound encounter with the Garasene demoniac. Remember that story from Mark's gospel? It's the one where Jesus commands the powerful demon to leave this tortured soul and enter into a herd of swine who promptly leap to their deaths off a cliff and into the Sea of Galilee. There's nary a "When Pigs Fly" Snack Bar.

The site accorded a stunning vista of the Sea of Galilee, Israel's Golan Heights, and a Syrian valley. As I commented when I posted a picture on Facebook earlier, the venue was basically "the Texarkana of the Middle East." But without the cheesy signage and souvenir shot glasses.

It is a gift to be here in this unadulterated Biblical land and I look forward to sharing some further stories, reflections, and photos along the way.