Nothing to hold

We leave the Arbel Guesthouse to walk to Tabgha, Israel, continuing our hike on the 40 mile Jesus Trail.

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We pass the ruins of the Roman/Byzantine Synagogue of Ancient Arbel, one of the oldest synagogues in the world. The synagogue door, carved from a massive natural limestone outcropping, still stands.

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The synagogue has a view of the Arbel Valley, where, according to one Jewish tradition, the Messiah will appear.

We take the Gospel Trail through the valley rather than walk down the steep Arbel cliffs.

We encounter many cows along the trail.

There are caves in the hillsides. The ancient historian Josephus (39/40 BC) tells of Herod the Great rooting out Hasmonian rebels from these caves by lowering soldiers in baskets, killing resisters, and building fires in the cave openings. Although Herod offered terms of surrender, the rebels chose suicide. Josephus tells of one old man, father of seven children, killing his wife and children, one by one, and then hurling himself to his death while Herod watched.


We approach the village of Wadi Haran, a settlement of Bedouins, formerly desert dwellers.

We see goats along a road.

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We meet a fellow hiker, Mieke, a German woman who tells us about living in a Palestinian refugee camp for three months. Jewish settlers threatened them while they tended their fields.

Lao tsu writes (chapter 74):

“If you realize that all things change

there is nothing you will try to hold on to.

If you aren’t afraid of dying

There is nothing you can’t achieve.

Trying to control the future

Is like trying to take the master carpenter’s place.

when you try to handle the master carpenter’s tools,

Chances are that you will cut your hand.”

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We look at bananas growing along the trail. Much has changed since Jesus passed through this valley. The Gospels do not mention bananas, cows, rebels, Bedouins, grapefruit, bees, or Palistinian refugee camps.

Some things are the same — spiritual healing and the Inner Way — things based on human physiology remain the same.

Lao tsu does not claim Divine authority. He merely provides guidelines for mental health, a path of harmony with the Tao. Close your eyes and turn your attention inward. Gently watch thoughts come and let them go. There is nothing to hold.

We reach Tabgha, and Karei Deshe, a youth hostel where we will stay for two days while we walk to the sites identified in the Gospels.

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