December 28, 2017

Resetting the start button

In Israel, life could become clamorous with negative headlines and doomsday politics.  We read the news, dismiss most of it as inaccurate and hope one day the world will wake up and understand the truth.

Our personal antidote to this dissonance is to walk the trails of the country we love. We take out a map, put on our hiking boots, pack up our tent and sleeping bags and head into nature, reaffirming our bond with awesome Israel.

 The weather here this December has been exquisite. It has been mostly sunny and the temperature hovers between 21 and 24 Celsius, making it ideal for hiking.  

We left for our camping trip this past Tuesday and since it had rained heavily on Sunday, we had quite the souvenir waiting for us – mud!

We started with an insanely muddy descent down Har Gilboa. Har Gilboa, with its peak at 1,629 feet above sea level, is the place in the Torah where King Saul and his sons Yonatan, Avinadav and Malchishua were slain in battle. 

Today, it is a peaceful mountain covered in meadow flowers with incredible views east to the fertile Jezreel Valley and the mountains of Jordan.

We slip-slid down, carrying pounds of thick mud under our boots. I often opted for the zero gravity move, which meant my backside made more contact with the trail than my feet. With the mud on our shoes and heavy packs on our backs, it was slow and at times treacherous. 

White crocuses were beginning to flower and purple cyclamen peaked out from the rocks. We saw many deer running across the ridges and shy rock rabbits jumping for safety upon spotting us intruders.

When we made it to flat, firm and dry ground, we were relieved. We walked until we found an oasis in the trees, a park set around a pool of thermal waters. We ate a simple meal, set up camp under the stars and rested our tired legs and achy shoulders. Jackals howled, then all was quiet.

 There is something magical about leaving busy lives behind and returning to simplicity. We had nothing but the packs on our backs. No worries and few needs. We ate basic food that tasted good because we were physically exhausted. Our bodies had worked hard in the sunshine and fresh air and now we were to have a well-earned, rejuvenating sleep.

At the end of 2017, society, with its urban lifestyle, instant communication and slick inventions, feels it has made progress. Yet we have lost a connection to the meaningful. We have deviated very far from staring at the deep dark skies and focusing on the howl of jackals; of having weightless minds and sun-kissed cheeks while touching the land in a gentle, respectful way.

 In this teensy country of natural wonders, I can search out such places where I am able to reset my start button. If others in this world could reconnect in this way, maybe there would be less clamor and confusion.

My pack is ready and sitting by the door waiting for a new adventure. Is yours?