Take Ten: On visiting Nazareth – 2

Take Ten; On visiting Nazareth – 2
by Behn Cervantes

May 31, 2004, Monday

After a hearty lunch, we went around window shopping. Now, that is
another experience.

Merchants in this area whether Arabs or Jews, have got to be the most
persistent, makulit and hard-sell of all. If you don’t like this,
there is that and many, many more to chose from. “C’mon all are of
the best of quality!” You almost feel guilty for not buying.

One lady store owner even gave me a free card because after she told
me she was Armenian, not an Arab – she added her name ended with
an “i-a-n” which, she said identifies many of her people. “Like
Khatchaturian?” I asked. “Ah,” she said “you know. Good!” Taking
advantage of my position of acceptance I added like “William
Saroyan?” “Aaah” she gasped, “you really know.” She then gave that
free card made by nuns – some Filipinas she added.

There is too much to buy in these tourist spots and I had lost interest
in collecting material souvenirs. I collect memories instead these
days. When the church opened we went through the different points of
interest including the site where Joseph, the carpenter was supposed
to have lived. Why was it underground?

Naturally, we had Kodakan sessions, mixing religious experience with
tourist concerns. However, the drive up Mt. Tabor was breathtaking.
The ancient church atop it is stark for a Catholic church which makes
it indeed impressive.

When I looked down the vast horizon and the valley below, you had to
feel spiritual. Religious thoughts returned.

Ricky pointed out Bedouin settlements when we drove down and explained
their controversial role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However,
what really got my interest was driving through Megido Valley. We
had seen it from atop Mt. Tabor but driving through it now and being
informed by Ricky that this was the alleged Biblical site of the Final
Battle or the Armageddon, my hair literally stood on end. When we
drove through it I dropped my defenses, allowed my imagination to
“ride along.” I pressed the Pause button in my doubtful mind and
consider what this all meant. Going through the alleged site of The
Final Battle or the Armageddon had an entirely different effect on me
from seeing the humble home of Joseph in Nazareth as a tourist. All
of sudden, I had very mixed emotions, one rather mundane, the other
rather spiritual and deeply profound.

Nazareth the simple home town of Joseph, the carpenter, Mary, his
wife and a young boy named Jesus is now a booming tourist attraction,
rather blatantly commercial under a patina of religiosity. It is
unrecognizable by Biblical standards after 2,000 years of progress
and commerce.

Megido Valley, on the other hand, is utterly still, unoccupied, and
empty, as though waiting to play its final role as proclaimed in the
Good Book.

One is opposite the other. The connection between the two contrasting
places is Jesus of Nazareth. As Christ he will have the central role
in Megido in that prophesied event.

I had to pause, consider and think. It was mind-boggling. I had to
pray… in my own manner.