We made it over the rise, finally, and our way out of Cana toward the Horns of Hittim. It's a meandering set of paths that weave their way passed olive groves and a variety of other farms. The path also follows an old Roman Road, that would have been a regular thoroughfare. But it wasn't long until we discovered that our path was no longer marked with the distinguishing features we were supposed to be following. The anchor arrow and the red/white flag were not to be found. Our guide was leading us, so we just followed and after nearly an hour of wandering, we stopped in an olive grove for our breakfast. (The hotel was kind enough to pack us each a nice breakfast with veggies, cheese, cold cuts, and an apple, which we had to lug along the journey and then had to carry the boxes out. We decided that while it was nice to start early in the coolest part of the day, we'd rather not have the extra hassle of carrying boxes all day.)
The location for our meal was nice, though. Sitting in and among the old olive trees made us wonder how many times Jesus did the same thing. We were also grateful that I had Google Earth so we could find out exactly where we were and how to get back to the path. And while Micah still believed he had a better plan and easier route which was supposed to constantly be downhill after Cana, we found ourselves on an almost constant incline for another hour. Finally, we found our way back to the path and our way to a stopping point before lunch. Abed picked us up on the highway and we traveled back to Cana to visit the Cana Wedding Church (which was closed when we passed it at 6:30 in the morning.)
This is a church the commemorates the story of Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding. We visited the church (the foundation being from a church as early as the mid 4th century) and read the story from John 2. We talked briefly about Jesus' first miracle compared to the ones to come later in his ministry. First of all his mother, Mary, is the one who pressed him to do something. (It even sounds like something a mother would say!) It was almost like she was expecting or anticipating something happening soon. Jesus already had disciples at this point and Mary had known his potential from the Angels stories before his birth.
What is common among his miracles is that they were not done for the miracle itself, rather for some other purpose: to tend to the grief of a mother or father, give someone back their lives and dignity, to be a witness and to change people's lives. What is unique about this story is that it wasn't about the wine here, rather it was to keep the groom, and his family, from being embarrassed for running out of wine. It was an act of kindness that was hidden to all except the few who witnessed it.
After a nice lunch in Cana, we headed back to the trail (skipping a short section) where we started from the base of the Horns of Hittim. An ancient, dormant volcano (or two) created a unique formation of two great peaks that provide a key landmark in the lower Galilee. They tower above every other hill and mountain in this part of the country and the old Roman road passed right by them. Our journey took us to the top of the largest one. One of the traditions is that this might be the location of the transfiguration story. (One of three possible locations.) A nice granite monument was erected that told the story written in Hebrew, English, and Arabic. Unfortunately, we discovered it defaced by someone using a grinder to dig into the granite cover all the text on all 4 sides. Micah reported the damage, but it is unlikely they'll find the culprits.
The climb was a difficult one and only 5 of us attempted it. Karlene decided to sit this one out and it was the right decision as it was even more challenging that we imagined. Once we climbed to the top of the first plateau, we found ourselves working toward the top of the cliffs in the center of the mountain, which had a nice bench and panorama of the whole lower Galilee.
(That's the Sea of Galilee in the background and Mount Arbel in the center of the picture. You'll get a better idea of the perspective and height in tomorrow's blog!)
After our short break at the top we couldn't find the path to continue so for the next 20 minutes or so, we scoured the top of the mount until we finally found our path markers. It was fortunate too, as Micah had "found" an alternative down the side of the cliff which could have been disastrous! I will say, the official path down was not an easy one either. But we made it! Mostly safely. (We did have two minor incidents with Kathy and Steve, both of whom took spills. Except for a couple of scrapes and some thorns to pull, all that was really hurt was a little pride.)
Looking back up the mountain was a moment that filled me with pride. I stopped Peg and made her turn around to look and I told her, "You did it!" And with her own sense of accomplishment she replied, "I did, didn't I!") She faced a great fear, but it didn't stop her. She kept going, slowly at times, but never quitting. We took a quiet moment of celebration and praise before catching up with the others. We still had a lot more steps down before this part of the trail was finished! (They just weren't as treacherous.)
At the bottom (eastern side) of the mountain is a Druze Community called Nebi Shueb that houses one of their most sacred shrines, the tomb of Jethro (the father in law of Moses). We made it down into the community with just enough time to visit the shrine before it closed. Then we boarded the bus for our next stop, Kibbutz Nof Ginosar, where we would be for the next few evenings. We cleaned up and gathered for dinner before turning in early. But Peggy and I slipped out early from dinner to head into Tiberius for probably the last time this trip.
W had hoped to see our old friend Zuran at Marina Sunrise, one of our favorite restaurants on the promenade in downtown Tiberius. Unfortunately, Marina Sunrise had a different name and a different group of people running it. While the menu had changed, the food was still excellent and the view outstanding. We sat overlooking the Sea at a spot we had sat in nearly a dozen times before. It was bittersweet with the changes, but mostly because we know our time here is quickly coming to a close.
We fell into bed exhausted, but blessed after a great day on the trail of Jesus.