On Friday, the sixteenth of August, thirteen members of our Shevet community set out to traverse the desert oasis of En Gedi. Jerusalem’s bustling city streets faded in the distance, while a vast lunar landscape stretched out before us. The highway wound southward like a black ribbon, skirting the Dead Sea’s iridescent shores, then inland along sandstone precipices.
Perhaps it was the thrill of adventure or just the simple fact that we were outside on a beautiful day that boosted team morale in light of the forecast’s blazing August temperatures (~107ºF). There’s no denying it was hot, even at eight in the morning. We set out, nevertheless, coated in sunscreen and laden with water. Besides a herd of grazing ibex, several other hikers gathered near the Wadi Arugot trailhead. What a relief to see we weren’t the only crazy ones out there!
Within minutes of hiking, our current study through 1 Samuel suddenly became 3-D. It’s no wonder David chose the wilderness of En Gedi as his refuge from Saul’s relentless pursuit. Hidden caves plus a constant desert stream equals the perfect hideout. I couldn’t help but think how this austere, yet stunning backdrop inspired David’s poetic spirit. “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.” (Psalm 63:1-2)
I think we all found ourselves caught up in the magnitude of our surroundings, with new discoveries around every corner. Contours, textures, and dramatic color contrasts provided a feast for the eyes. And right in the middle of dry desert mountains was a lush swath of green bordering the stream. The climax of our trek was perhaps sitting at the foot of a thundering waterfall, letting the water surge over us, basking in its strength and immediate assuagement of heat. “Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.” (Psalm 42:7)
One truth that remains with me from this day is the reality that we experienced refreshment in the midst of a desert. What a parallel to the way God often works in our lives. Enjoy these remaining images of our adventure!