The Baptism Site, more than a pilgrimage destination

Baptism Site (Rula)
“The Baptism Site of Jesus Christ holds a wealth of history and knowledge that could not be learnt from only reading about it,” writes Jordan News columnist Rula Samain. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
In our modern world and all its benefits, unusual pressure and enormous challenges compel people not only to seek pilgrimage, but gives the term an entirely new meaning.اضافة اعلان

There are myriad reasons to embark on a pilgrimage, be it seeking repentance or spiritual healing, self-transformation, or curiosity. In the end, we all seek comfort and joy — the foundation of our lives.

The Baptism Site is among the most famous pilgrimage destinations, not only in Jordan but globally. It is considered to be among the most important recent discoveries in Middle Eastern archeology.

You are not completely mistaken if you believe, as many do, that the place is exclusively a pilgrimage destination for Christians, since it is the place where Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist who spent most of his life there.

Still, this idea should not stop anyone from visiting and experiencing the feeling it brings, specially standing at the bank of the Jordan River surrounded by the mystique of the nature, allowing your imagination to travel back in time and visualize how the scene might have looked like at that specific time.

What a fantastic place! The Baptism Site of Jesus Christ holds a wealth of history and knowledge that could not be learnt from only reading about it. Visiting the Jordan Valley and the site provides a unique and special experience. Beside the holy river of Jordan, archaeologists have discovered more than 20 sites in the area, including Byzantine churches, baptismal pools dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods, and the caves of monks and hermits.

The caves are not naturally made. Monks built them with their own hands. From afar, the caves look like tiny holes in the middle of the small mountains. The caves are almost 3m above the ground, to protect the monks from the elements and wild animals. It is interesting to know that animals like hyenas and mountain lions used to dwell in that area. 

With the help of a long ladder, I was able to follow the guide inside one of the caves. Upon entering the two-room cave, I grappled with the idea that this was not a life common for all; it was a way of life that once existed and now is gone. 

Each room is no more than 1.5m deep and high. The inner room served for praying, and the other for eating and sleeping, a small carved seat serving as both a place to rest and sleep. 

Beside the unique religious and historical event of the baptism of Jesus Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit on him then and there, the Baptism Site of Jordan offers something more to ordinary reality than is immediately obvious.

Walking the trails that have been left as pure and original as possible, and experiencing the area’s energy, can’t but leave an impact on each visitor’s heart and mind. The German author Hildegard Von Bingen wrote: “Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.”

Rula Samain is a journalist and writer specialized in interfaith dialogue and reconciliation, and the author of “Fortress of Peace” and “Towards the Fourth Watch of the Night”.

Read more Opinion and Analysis