OK, so technically we didn’t “hike” the Jesus Trail today but we did receive our orientation to the trail this morning and also found out that an older German couple will be hiking on the same itinerary. They are very nice (he’s a travel agent checking out the trail so that he can push more German tourists this way) but they also tend to walk very slow which, if you know me well, is a challenge for me. As one of my colleages once said, “You walk like your hair’s on fire,” which could be why I don’t have any more. We’ll be hiking with them with a guide on the first day since getting out of Nazareth can be tricky navigation-wise. I will do my best not to run circles around the formation.
We spent the morning just hanging out at the Fauzi Azar Inn which included a little extra sleep, a fine breakfast with the unique addition of cinnamon to scrambled eggs (awesome!), and generally just propping up our feet. The Inn is a comfy place with multiple stair cases and levels around an open, two-level courtyard. Sitting in the courtyard you can hear the sounds of the Muslim call to prayer and the Christian church bells mixed with the cooing of the many pigeons and doves that call the nooks and crannies of this old Inn.
I took a stroll down to the Church of the Annunciation and sat for a little while in silence until a great crowd of tourists came in and a mass began in Italian, so I decided to hike up the hill a little ways to check out the smaller church of St. Joseph. Just like in the biblical story, St. Joseph’s gets a bit part in the narrative but the church built to honor him is much more pleasant than the forboding, industrial Church of the Annunciation.
After lunch, we headed out to find Nazareth Village, site of a terraced farm in the days of Jesus that has now been converted into a living history village of first century Jewish life in Nazareth. Getting there was a bit of a challenge however, since the purple blazes for the trail to get there sent us through a Muslim cemetery without a clear indication of where we were to go when we got to the other side. An old man hanging out in the cemetery tried to explain it to us in Arabic, but we didn’t get it. I think he was bemused when we crossed through the cemetery three times until finally we understood that we were to keep going straight. Note to self: study some Arabic and/or Hebrew before coming back here and getting off the beaten path.
Nazareth Village is an interesting window into village life. While not exactly the equivalent of Colonial Williamsburg, we did see some things in operation that in other places we saw as ruins–things like a working first century olive press and a wool spinning demonstration. it was a pleasant visit, at the end of which we received a replica of a small clay lamp of the sort used at the time. My feet were grateful for the morning rest and my spirit was grateful for a reminder of Jesus, the light of the world. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,” wrote the psalmist, but I suppose the opposite can be true as well; at least it was today!
Tomorrow we step off toward Capernaum with our first night spent in Cana, site of Jesus’ first miracle in John’s Gospel. More from the trail to come!