Small Graces in Archaeology and Faith

(Warning! Theological content!)

God’s small graces startle me. They did high above the Sea of Galilee in March while standing on the Cliff of Arbel, looking at an arc of shoreline laden with archaeological wonders. My mind was firmly there: Capernaum, Tagbha, the Mount of the Beatitudes—well-preserved sites I would visit again in days.

P1000169The wind was stiff, blowing up the thirteen-hundred-foot edifice. The skies, cloudy. Rain threatened, and for once, I wasn’t sweating like a wild boar in Israel. Shuffling along the ridge, mindful of respectful distance because I am not the most graceful of God’s creatures, I decided to investigate flowers I had seen on the roadside northward from the desolate Dead Sea.

I smiled, remembering they were part of God’s general revelation of Himself. Ways to enrich our lives with beauty. Small gifts, as it were. Anemones (which I thought were poppies from afar); daisy-like wildflowers; and wild iris, just like those that lay in pale blue washes across meadows of our high-mountain ranch in the Rockies.

Then I thought of the universality of those iris. Here they sat, high above a lake (which isP1000170 really what the Sea of Galilee is) halfway around the world from where I live. For thousands of years, people have seen these iris in the more verdant parts of the Middle East, just as my kids saw them every summer. Just as I see them last week, poking through snow here in my yard.

They’re small graces. For which I’m thankful.

(New photos of the wildflowers in northern Israel were posted yesterday at the end of the When Camels Fly photo album.)