New Day Herald

Participants on Day 11 of the PTS Tour to the Holy Land 2023

Day 11 PTS Tour of Israel

I’ll tell you a secret about these trips: Generally speaking, after your baptism you get tempted. This follows the model of Jesus, who went into the desert and was tempted by Satan after he was baptized by John the Baptist. I’m not saying it’s a shatterproof rule, but it’s my experience on these trips and I’m sure I heard J-R mention it at one point on a PAT IV.

After a week of PAT processes, SE’s and very little free time at the simply-appointed kibbutz, with modest food and a barely functional internet connection, we get baptized, and then a trip down the Jordan takes us to the luxurious David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, where presidents and potentates stay.

Temptation is an extremely boring and rote pattern that seems sexy only because of the way it stimulates the body or ego. But stimulation has to be subtle or it becomes irritation. (If they poured cheesecake all over you it wouldn’t work.) So temptation is a tickle, a gesture, a glance.

I have to be really rigorous with my energy on these trips in order to do my jobs. Eat minimally and early in the evenings. Sleep only when the body loudly demands it and get up and start working as soon as I’m conscious. I didn’t even get baptized this time but I must have been immersed in the energy because I watch myself starting to ogle the girlfriend even more than usual and glance at the other women on the trip, and inspect and experiment with the lavish desserts at 8 or 9 pm instead of going through my photos. And I even spend a few minutes reading the comments on my posts on facebook, a kind of public ego-orgy whose satanic enticements I’ve never sampled before. All of a sudden my nerves start firing lawlessly with infantile concerns about what other people are doing and thinking. My first impression is that this is a gold-bricked-paved road to hell, even more slippery than cheesecake.

After leaving the kibbutz we follow the Jordan River, stopping at a rest stop where some of the more supple start an impromptu yoga-pilates-exercise class on a small patch of astroturf by the gas pumps (see photos). We stop in the scalding heat at a narrow, reed-infested, sediment-slimed patch of the Jordan River where John the Baptist is said to have baptized Jesus. A few people are doing baptisms on the opposite bank guarded by guys in fatigues with rifles—a far cry from the swanky, gift-shop-ringed, limpid area of the Jordan shaded by eucalyptus trees where we did our baptisms.

We also stop at Qumran, a system of caves in the desert overlooking the Dead Sea, home to an ascetical Jewish sect, where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. I’m kind of body-focused as I think many in the group are, being recently liberated from our spiritual disciplines, looking around for cold drinks and forgetting to chant my tone. As I catch myself in this sleepy outer focus and turn my attention more inward, I’m aware of a profound peace in these places where Jesus and/or other initiates into the mysteries meditated with only bare earth and heat-glistened clear sky to entertain them. As I review my photos the large areas of clear sky make dust spots on my lenses and sensors visible, revealing places where I haven’t cleaned my camera. A modern version of the ancient lessons.

Lunch is at a hotel in Jericho in a Palestinian area, and some street photos taken from the bus may give you a sense of what it’s like.

As our buses climb the hills into the big city of Jerusalem it gets cooler, the people we watch from the bus windows are livelier, faster-moving and more awake, and the smell of money, mental activity, ambition and creativity gets stronger, until finally we swarm into the David Citadel Hotel to scramble for our room keys, sweaty and dazzled both by the sun and by our week in the heavens, and head to our rooms where our timeworn habits wait for us like old friends and enemies from childhood.

View the Photos from PTS Israel Tour Day 11

1 thought on “Day 11 PTS Tour of Israel”

  1. David I love your writing. you make me laugh with your truths and and details of this crazy spiritual ride. blessings

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