Hello everyone! Before we get to the fun stuff, here's a few general disclaimers about my trip-blogging:
- It may be random.
- It may be extremely sporadic.
- The level of detail may vary considerably post to post.
But I'll do the best I can!
Packing and LeavingOne of the advantages of maintaining a large library is that on a moment's notice you can select books on just about any subject. I had two that were immediately relevant to the trip: Thomas Cahill's Gifts Of The Jews and John Hagee's The Battle For Jerusalem. I threw in some C. S. Lewis for good measure.
I started taking pictures before I was even 40 minutes from home, a sure sign that I had shifted smoothly into vacation mode. The moon was breathtaking, and I found a turnout where a few naked oaks framed the scene perfectly.
I wound my way through the valley and took the back way into Springville, listening to Rich Mullins. The evening gave way to a crystalline night, the moon etching a sharp line between mountain and sky. Sometimes the night was beautiful, and this was one of those times. It was the kind of night you could drink like water, your soul deliciously satisfied and yet still thirsting for more.
After a final packing flurry at Lindvall's, Joseph and I crashed and got a few hours of sleep before getting up at 5:30 to join Timothy and Brittany and catch the 8 o'clock Airport Bus from Bakersfield. (Brittany's parents kindly drove us down to Bakersfield in the Sprinter.) The bus ride, my first such journey in the States, was fairly comfortable - definitely not a bad option for getting around without hassling with the details involved in parking a personal vehicle. I wouldn't want to drive one of those monsters though.
Going over the Grapevine is a bit like taking the pass into Mordor. The effect is even greater after the recent fires: dead trees over a dreary landscape, shrouded in a murky mist. The mist, along with the upward-jutting hills, creates a cramping, confined atmosphere. But the highway plunges on.
Utmost Tuesday morning contained this nugget:
Many of us have a mental conception of what a Christian should be, and the lives of the saints become a hindrance to our concentration on God. There is no salvation in this way, it is not simple enough.
That is why the lives of the saints are always original and always the same.
Waiting for Departure from LAX
Into The Rising Sun
As I'm writing this, Joseph and I are out over the Atlantic, South of the Western coast of the British Isles. We'll probably be over the European mainland in another hour or so. I'm waking up to God Of Wonders, watching a sliver of golden horizon through the lowered windows.
Israel is 10 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time. (As an aside, and to give you a sense of distance, so is Moscow.) We literally flew through the night, by which I mean that instead of flying for the duration of the night, we flew through the night as one might fly through a curtain. So while it's still the middle of the night over Sky Ranch, businessmen in Tel Aviv are starting to think about lunch. (Up here, there's no time at all: only stiff knees and a vague sense of forward motion.)
Joseph and I both managed to grab a little sleep during the "night," in spite of the elevated temperature and general stuffiness of the cabin. Just because it's -67 outside doesn't mean it has to be 90 inside. Sheesh. I think David would have asphyxiated; I myself was fine once I kicked off my shoes.
Throughout the cabin, Orthodox Jews are beginning their morning prayer, donning shawls and opening overhead compartments to retrieve small prayer books and other articles. It's amazing how nothing - not even the cramped confines of an International Jetliner - hinders their meticulous devotion. There's some kind of meeting going on in a small lighted area towards the rear of the cabin - heads nodding back in forth in the rhythmic style of Jewish prayer - the whole scene highlighted in sharp relief against Jars Of Clay's The Stone, playing on my iPod:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone
My morning reading is Matthew 23, and the plain wording of the chapter, superimposed on the ritualistic piety going on all around me, is dramatic. The immensity of it all - the larger-than-life-ness of this experience - is slowly starting to sink in.