It’s been almost two months since the week I spent at Mt. Ebal. I’ve unpacked, returned to work, had dozens of meetings, traveled to several states, talked to my friends, laughed with my children and, to all outward appearances, returned to normal. But something has changed.
My perspective is different. It seems as if the critical decisions I’ve always made at home and at work are no longer so critical. In fact, in the whole scheme of things, nothing I am or do or think is so critical anymore.
What has changed is that I’ve spent some time thinking about the ancient people of the altar. Somewhere along the line, those folks from 3,000 years ago stopped being extras in a Hollywood movie and became real people—a mixed group—maybe like we were a couple of months ago: old and young, pious and irreverent, strong and weak, clean and dirty and just plain different. Maybe 3,000 years hasn’t changed us all that much.
What I’m trying to say is that the opportunity to work on this very special dig made a difference to me. I joined the dig in order to get away from things. I wanted to work hard under the hot sun in a distant place with total strangers.
That objective was met the first day.
After that, I began to listen and learn. Your talks about the altar and geology, our walk down the mountain and all the other events from that week worked together with the gentle brushing of earth from stone, the pause to look at the beauty around us, and maybe even the chocolate for breakfast, to make that week very special.
And so, I’m writing to thank you—and Orie and Neevy—for your infinite patience, instruction and all your efforts on our behalf. You gave us far more than our awkward, unskilled labor could return. We are deeply in your debt.
I hope the rest of the season went well.
Dear Adam [Zertal],
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