Living in the desert and climbing mountains gave Bruce Feiler much time for reflection. In Walking the Bible, he begins speaking of fear he's encountered throughout his life: losing control, disappointing himself, failing. Then he notes, "when your god is self-reliance, and you let yourself down, there is nowhere else to turn." He went on to say that the desert's first lesson is this: "By feeling uneasy and unsure, by fearing that you're out of your depth and therefore might falter, by feeling small, and alone, you begin -- slowly, reluctantly, maybe even for the first time in your life -- to consider turning somewhere else," to someone or something. He notes that you "eventually grow weary of the flat and easy, the commonplace and self-reliant. You begin to crave the depth, the height, the extremes. You begin even to crave the fear." (pg. 224)
From a talk with Israel Hershkovitz, a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Tel Aviv University who now studies ancient skeletons:
"'We know now that genes have the ability to store ancestral memories. And these can survive for hundreds of years. The Jewish people, for example, are very stubborn. To keep up with their religion for all those years in exile, first in Babylon, then in the diaspora, reminds me of a very special people: the bedouin. You give up a lot, you live in marginal areas, you don't enjoy all the benefits of life. But you preserve your identity.'" (pg. 410)
In remembering the struggle of Jacob with the messenger of God in the valley of Jabbok, Bruce reminds us of Jacob's scarring when the messenger touches Jacob's hip and dislocates it. He writes, "The scar, significantly, does not end up on Jacob's hand, nor on his head, his heart, or his eyes. Humans experience God, the text seems to be saying, not by touching him, imagining him, feeling him, or seeing him. Jacob is scarred on his leg, for the essential way humans experience God, the text suggests, is by walking with him." (pg. 422)
The author tells some of the history of Jordan and includes this interesting statistic about water while talking about this country being desert-rich.
"The country's per capita consumption of water is 200 cubic meters a year, compared to 1,800 in Syria, 7,700 as the world's average, and 110,000 in the United States. That means the average American uses 550 times more water a year than the average Jordanian." (pg. 353)
And finally I think I posted all my notes from this book!