The day I died in the Dead Sea

The day I died in the Dead Sea May 8, 2015

For three glorious days last month I was on the shores of the Dead Sea. At more than 1,400 below sea level, it’s the lowest spot on earth. I wrote on Facebook, “Today, I’m at the lowest point of my life,” stealing a line from  Benjamin Corley in our group. I couldn’t believe how quickly the interventions came in on my while and then I realized that I had forgotten to post a very important photo that would give a little context.

Dead Sea ElevationThank you all for caring!

Ben and I took some of the mud collected from the shores and smeared it on ourselves. The $200 mud treatments charged by spas around world can be had with a scoop of the hand here. It seemed silly to do this – and definitely challenged my predetermined sense of manliness. I let it bake on while facing the burning sun, and I could feel the salt lifting the oils from my skin. When I washed it off, I almost felt radiant. (What have I become!  Save me Tim Tebow!) Don’t count on any future updates from me on facial mud masks.



But the real experience was to float in the waters of the Dead Sea. With a 34 percent salinity, it’s one of the world’s saltiest bodies. It’s 9 times saltier than the ocean. Nothing lives in these waters – no fish, no plant life. Not even bacteria (Except here)

I entered the waters with my muddy body and before I could even begin to ease into the water, my feet began to rise. Similar to a gravity effect, my body began to float. I tried a few strokes from my side or on my back, the traditional trajectory and movements of my body were thwarted by the water which actually pushed harder against my efforts.DeadSeaFloat

I tried turning to my front, but the water flipped me over like a bathtub toy. The ballast must be in my front side (too much falafel, hummus and pita!) I was a human cork, bobbing, floating. I yelled to my pal across the water, “Help me, I can’t drown.”

And it was true. It is impossible to die of drowning in these waters.

I tried different strokes taught to me by Mrs. Jacobs when I was nine. Side stroke. Frog push. Forward stroke. Nothing worked. It was useless.

The only enjoyment I had was when I laid back in the water and let go. I released my efforts and lay prone on my back – and let go. I had to trust the water that I had grown to fear all my life. 

I could look off one shoulder and see the Golan Heights of Israel. On the other I could see the Jordanian resorts. Straight up I could see the sky. I closed my eyes to the quiet and bobbed with the gentle waves, not a care in the world.


The Dead Sea is a unique spot. One of the lowest spots in the world, the Jordan River dumps fresh, vibrant water into its depths. And there, everything living thing is choked out by the salt. The sea has one inlet, and no outlets. There are relationships like this, and homes, and churches. There are people who take, and never give.  There is no lower place a human can sink…no lower place on earth for them to reside.

One of the strange anomalies of the man who preached on these shores 2,000 years ago is that he spoke in upside language. The poor will be rich. The weak will become strong. The first will be last. Like reading a book while standing on your head looking through a mirror, everything is upside down, or is it backward – and yet the meaning is simple and true.

Like the time he said.He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

I never quite understood these words fully, until this day. The day I could do nothing but float, and trust. The day I died in the Dead Sea.


I spent the evening, deep in thought. The sun set across the mysterious waters. My skin, refreshingly vibrant. My soul, ready for the next act of surrender.

Dead Sea
The Dead Sea, photo by David Rupert


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