Sunday, August 11, 2013

Jerusalem, if I forget you… (Part 2)

2 Chronicles 32:30
It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David. He succeeded in everything he undertook.

The entrance of Hezekiah's Tunnel

My favorite part I think was Hezekiah’s tunnel. In a touristy little area that calls itself "The city of David" just outside the walls of the old city, there are some archeological diggings. Now we wandered into this place on day 4 or so of the trip and I was not super interested in every last pile of rocks we passed. I rushed Anthony through that part because we were running late (as always) and the place was going to close. Finally we came to some steps that went down, and down, and into the rock, and down some more. There were a few more informational plaques about various pottery found there but again, I wasn't interested. At the very bottom the path split off into two tunnels. One was a well lit short walk through a narrow tunnel with a high ceiling that was supposedly made by the Canaanites. The other was a stone archway leading into darkness. That was where we wanted to go.

We had a quick look in the Canaanite tunnel to be sure we weren't missing anything, then prepared to enter Hezekiah’s tunnel. I had read about it beforehand and it sounded like a cool experience, walk through the old waterway under the city. We put our sneakers and trousers in our bags. (I was wearing leggings. Anthony went in his boxers) and got out a tiny LED keychain flashlight they sold in the gift shop. I tightened the straps on my backpack, turned on the tiny light, took a deep breath and stepped into the tunnel. 

I was surprised to find after taking two steps in that I wasn't in the tunnel at all. There was a rock wall in front of me. Instead, to the side, there was a small crawl space that seemed to emanate blackness and the sound of rushing water. I backed out quickly. "That's the tunnel?!" Anthony rattled of his list of reassurances. Its perfectly safe, thousands of people have done it, etc. He asked if I was ready. I told him I was terrified but I couldn't wait to do it.
I made him go first. We stepped into the blackness through the tiny hole and immediately the water was up to our knees, then thighs and the sound of rushing water was deafening. I found my legs shaking a bit. I clung to the back of Anthony's backpack and forced myself a few more steps. The water went down and it got a bit quieter. We continued along, sloshed through the water and felt narrow stone walls on either side. The only light was the keychain. 

Anthony loving every moment of it

I started to calm down a bit. It was rather peaceful sloshing along slowly through a pitch black narrow path. Then I thought I heard something behind me. I looked back and the sheer blackness of it made my heart race and I squeezed my eyes shut and grabbed onto Anthony. It took another moment, but we continued on. Once I pulled myself together, it was actually really cool. We saw chisel marks from thousands of years ago and thought of the people who made them. We walked along quietly meditating on the sheer oldness of it, how many people, kings, empires have come and gone over the head of this little tunnel. 

Then, behind us at the entrance of the tunnel, teenagers entered. We knew they were teenagers because they were loud and purposely stupid sounding. They shouted and did not stop for a single minute for the duration of their walk through the tunnel. The walk takes about 45 minutes. We tried to stay ahead of them to preserve some of the quiet. It didn’t work. If there is one thing that gets to me, it’s loud noises and small spaces in combination. When we finally made it into the sunshine outside, I needed to sit down. It was a turning point, I think. It made me realize that I can handle much more than I thought. The experience is worth the fear and difficulty. I can see and experience so much more in life, now that I’m willing to have a go at conquering it.

My terrified yet excited face


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