I have this sneaking suspicion that even the one whom we call The Way might have gotten lost today. The route out of Nazareth has changed a bit in 2,000 years. The city has gone from 400 to 75,000. One climbs 406 steps to get to the top of the hills surrounding town, and then passes traffic circles, a gold-domed mosque, and several construction sites employing some very unfamiliar tools.
Still, the walk from Jesus’ home town to the ruins of Sephorus had some rural and agricultural moments that our Lord might have recognized. There were thistles and flowers, sheep and wheat and birds of the air — all good fuel for a rural rabbi-storyteller. I think he would have found the heat familiar. And, I would hope, the dark-eyed five year-old calling out “Hello!”
I didn’t get lost, however. The “way” is marked with occasional orange dots and stripes. And the Inn provided me with my own personal guide: Maggie, a twenty-something American girl who is seeing the world, and has been in Israel only a couple weeks longer than I have. But they like to help hikers through the first, more confusing day — this was the first time such aid meant just one person. Helping me, she said, was “better than a day at the reception desk.” I’m sure she meant every word of it.
I’m on my own the next three days. But not really. Someone has gone ahead, and marked the way.