From our hotel at the Dead Sea we drove a short ways north to Masada. If you are not familiar with the story of Masada, then you can surf over to Wikipedia, or Google it. If you have about 6 hours, rent the movie starring Peter O’Toole.
Here is the main thing I want to mention about Masada – not the most important thing, mind you, but a memorable experience for me. There are two ways up the mountain – cable car, or self-inflicted torture via a winding ancient trail. My feet voted for the cable car, but my pride cast the winning ballot. I joined 13 others from our group who loaded up with water and began hiking our way to Masada – 440 meters above the level of the Dead Sea. I’m not really good at converting meters to feet, but I figure we climbed about 98 miles.
Or so it felt. About a quarter of the way up I realized that it was a bad day to weigh 250 pounds. So in my delirious, near-dehydrated state I began to look for a shortcut. The path we followed was a series of switchbacks – a zigzagging path that led us up the east side. When I say there were a “series” of switchbacks, I’m saying there were nearly a million.
Or so it felt. About one third of the way up I saw a shortcut that I was sure would save me at least two minutes, and would catapult me to the front of our group. It wasn’t a race, but like I said – my pride was weighing in heavily on my decision-making today.
To describe my shortcut, begin by imagining the capital letter “A.” Ok, don’t imagine it – just look at the one on your screen. Now lay it on its side. A switchback is a sideways “A” without the short line that crosses the middle. My brilliant idea was that short line. One problem with that: the path went from steep to straight up a vertical cliff.
Or so it felt. By the time I reached the next switchback I was totally spent. And I was still way behind the people in the lead. Actually they weren’t just “people” – they were girls, and they were kickin’ my butt.
The rest of my trek was spent gulping water, gasping air, and swallowing pride.
I did make it. Eventually.
Here’s the moral of the journey: There are no shortcuts that can take the place of staying true to the course.
Spiritually, make your own applications. I’ll give you one to start: Perhaps you began your spiritual journey because someone said, “Hey, just pray this simple prayer.” Easy enough.
Or so you thought.
Gary, great post, I remember that trail well, personally i opted for cable car up, jog down that trail down method, and i assure you i know that was a tough up. Pretty cool place though wouldn’t you say? Miss you guys and we are praying for you all.
Loving your thoughts. Thanks for sharing Gary. I apprecate them.
Gary, I have been enjoying all your postings, what a wonderful, personal journey you are having there.
Could the girls ahead of you be the half-marathon queen, and your wife Beth and Wibke, the marathon queen? Lindsey, Beckah, Wibke did the hike last year up and down the Mesada. What fun.
Enjoy floating in the Dead Sea.
Oh, Gary, fabulous post! I remember the path well, and I took one look and said I’d ride the cable car. I know just who was so adept at beating you, too. Or think I know. For taking the cable car, I was rewarded. There was a rabbi on the car who was wearing- I am not making this up- a Univ. of FL cap. I asked him about it, being as how we were sandwiched like sardines as if we all knew each other very well. Turns out, he knew nothing about the Gators, but just collects ball caps people give him. I was deflated. Sort of like taking another shortcut? Just in case you were wondering, you have a lot of people following your blogs, dare I say it, religiously.
I left out that I was also a part of the hiking crew last year. Wonderful adventures.
Ditto, Terrie. I’m a believer, and, sometimes, a short-cutter. Don’t shortcuts and pride just kind of go together?