temptation and the wadi qelt. / by Levi Buchanan

Otherworldy. Saw two desert monasteries today. The first was the Mount of Temptation, high above Jericho. Flanked by hermit caves, the monastery's jewel is the stone where Jesus sat when he was tempted by the devil. Beautiful iconography in the chapel and, mercifully, fresh water from sorta-friendly monks. (They welcome you... but then also let you know when it's time to go.)

Long way up to temptation. 

Long way up to temptation. 

Overlooking Jericho. 

Overlooking Jericho. 

Narrow passages. 

Narrow passages. 

The temptation stone. 

The temptation stone. 

But the second, St. George's Monastery, in the Wadi Qelt was otherworldly. Founded in the sixth-century CE (and unfortunately destroyed), the monastery clings to the side of a valley -- allegedly the "valley of the shadow of death" in Psalm 23. The remains of the monks slaughtered in 614 CE are in the monastery chapel. I've seen no shortage of astounding places in Israel thus far, but this was something singular.

Cut into the Wadi Qelt. 

Cut into the Wadi Qelt. 

Long way down. 

Long way down. 

Small chapel. 

Small chapel.