One thing ticked off my bucket list…floating in the Dead Sea! As I write this, it is almost a year to the day that we visited the Dead Sea. It was one of the hottest days we had been in during our trip – over 40 degress from memory. And for a Christchurch girl, used to the relatively cooler New Zealand weather, it was HOT! We had already visited Masada and Qumran, and this was our last stop for the day.
The Dead Sea is about 34% salt (compared to the ocean which is around 3%), and because of that, there is quite a large border around the Sea, where nothing grows at at all. Ecologically speaking, that boundary between the salty edge and where plants manage to grow is one of the harshest environments around. Salty soil means plants have trouble retaining water (osmosis), and combined with only a couple of weeks worth of rain every year, water becomes the premium key to survival. Apparently there are some minor bacteria and fungi that do actually manage to survive in the area (link).
The official swimming spots are moved periodically as the visitors to the waters stirs up the mud. The picture below shows the walk down to the waters edge. As the Dead Sea is quite low at the moment, and so it was quite a stroll from the changing rooms down to the water.
As we got into the water it was very warm, and felt slimy and stinging on cuts we didn’t know we had! Once I got over the sliminess, I was amazed at the feeling of floating! It was incredible that the density of the water, and the bouyancy of our bodies was enough to float. Oh the science nerd in me was happy.
To stand up from floating, we had to bring our legs up into a sitting position, hold on to them and then quickly move to standing. However often we couldn’t help but flip onto our back…and float! Insane feeling, and quite funny to observe others trying the usually simple feat. We floated over to a more muddy area and proceeded to exfoliate and cover ourselves with this mineral rich mud. I must say after the whole thing, my skin was silky smooth for a good couple of days!
We had to walk back up to the changing rooms, shower really well and get changed. It was so very hot, as soon as I dried myself, my whole body was sweating again, not very pleasant. I was ever so thankful for an iced coffee afterwards – very much a treat! The best thing ever, in fact! And of course I got a rock – on our trip my friends got to know that I would grab a stone from different areas, and so had a couple of offers of a rock from the mud at the bottom of the swimming area in the Dead Sea. A lovely smooth rock that I will treasure.
On our way back to Jerusalem, we drove through Jericho in the lovely, amazing, wonderful air conditioned bus. Did I mention that we enjoyed the cool ride in the air conditioning? That evening we all decided to go up to the roof top of the hotel for worship. It was a beautiful experience filled with worshipping, singing, sharing and praying. Wonderfully blessed.
It did make me think about how often we look at things in our life that feel down right uncomfortable. Things that feel slimy, and sting and also not look so pretty (like the mud). But to know that the stinging feeling is also cleansing…is FREEDOM! Knowing that the mud is exfoliating, wiping away the dead useless skin, revealing new soft skin…is UNDERSTANDING the process! To put your cut under the water, knowing it is going to sting like heck, but also knowing it is going to heal perfectly with not infection…is WISDOM. Knowing that it will be for your good…is TRUST in your Creator. Facing things in life that sting, but knowing at the other end we have healing, cleansing is ultimate freedom! We can face things in this world with a different lens on. The moulding and shaping of our character can be quite uncomfortable, but in the end, the master potter know exactly what is is best for us and how he has created us.
“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”Isaiah 64:8