Monday, November 1, 2010

Water in the Wilderness, by blogger of the month Isaac Hatton

Jerusalem, heading to the En Gedi spring.
The schedule said "self-study."  No classes!  A whole day off to study . . . or to rent a car with friends and head east for a day of hiking around En Gedi followed by a relaxing float in the dead sea . . . followed, of course, by some studying in the evening!
Driving through the rocky, sun-scorched wilderness, it was hard to imagine there being any fresh water in the vicinity whatsoever, let alone waterfalls.  But as we started climbing, there it was, the sound of gurgling water, growing louder and louder.  And then we could see it: streams gushing out from the very dust and rocks that define the whole surrounding region as desert.  We quickly found our own secluded side-stream, away from the bus-load of screaming school girls, and plunged beneath the refreshing water, rinsing away the dust and sweat.

The En Gedi spring
It was not the waterfalls themselves that impressed me.  There are bigger and more beautiful streams to be found in the world.  But the thing about En Gedi is that watefalls are so unlikely.  Who would think of fresh water pouring out of the desert?  Its location makes it spectacular and I enjoyed soaking in the beauty. 
Last night I witnessed another location-defined miracle involving water.  I was sitting at my desk beside my open window enjoying the cool evening breeze when suddenly I heard the rain start.  Rain!  I haven't seen a drop of precipitation since moving to Israel over three months ago.  In fact, that's the longest I've ever gone before without seeing rain.  Back home in Northern Ireland three days without rain makes the evening news!  But there it was, a downpour in middle of the desert.
Got me thinking about the dry times in life, like being separated from loved ones and having to learn, sometimes with frustration, how to adapt to a new culture.  

Me (Isaac) and four of my MSIH first-years
Sure it can be difficult, but the dry days are always followed sooner or later by a good rain.  A phone call from home at just the right moment, or a friendly neighbor who is patient with your faltering Hebrew.  A really good lecture when a complicated biochemical pathway starts to make sense, or a "self-study" day.  If not for the desert, rain would just be rain, and a waterfall would be nothing but a waterfall.