Off to the Holy Land


A friend who knows I am about to go to the Holy Land sent me a quote from John Muir. I went to find its origin as so many "quotes" are not real. This one is, it is from Albert W. Palmer, The Mountain Trail and Its Message (Boston: The Pilgrim Press, 1911)

"One day as I was resting in the shade Mr. Muir overtook me on the trail and began to chat in that friendly way in which he delights to talk with everyone he meets. I said to him: "Mr. Muir, someone told me you did not approve of the word 'hike.' Is that so?" His blue eyes flashed, and with his Scotch accent he replied: "I don't like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains - not hike!

"Do you know the origin of that word 'saunter?' It's a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, "A la sainte terre,' 'To the Holy Land.' And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not 'hike' through them."

John Muir lived up to his doctrine. He was usually the last man to reach camp. He never hurried. He stopped to get acquainted with individual trees along the way. He would hail people passing by and make them get down on hands and knees if necessary to see the beauty of some little bed of almost microscopic flowers. Usually he appeared at camp with some new flowers in his hat and a little piece of fir bough in his buttonhole."

I am about to go on a saunter to the Holy Land. The first 13 days I will be with a group of 41 pilgrims. It is an ecumenical trip sponsored by our church, the Catholic Church and the Methodist churches of Athens. It is part of our initiative to draw our churches closer together. We believe Jesus that the way we love each other will be a testimony to our world on how much we love Jesus. 

After that trip ends I am going to take 2 weeks of sabbatical leave. Each five years the church gives me some time for in-depth study. On first sabbatical I wen to Oxford. The second sabbatical was longer and I went to study in Africa. On my third sabbatical I went on a writing journey about Martin Luther King Jr. On these two weeks of study I am going to go to a number of locations in Israel and Jordan to do deeper study than a group trip allows. Im attempting to go to Mt. Ebal and see the altar Joshua built. I am going to walk part of the path that Jesus walked on a Roman road to the Galilee. I am going to visit an archeological dig that is sifting material from the Temple Mount. I will be exploring the area the children of Israel spent in the wilderness. I am going to go to a temple that was built after the exile that is deep in the desert and rarely visited, bit the only place to get a sense of the Jerusalem temple.

I pray I will come back even more energized the preach God's word to you. Please pray from me as I go to lead and study and listen to the voice of God.