Not from the Holy Land trip, but a more recent journey to the Mongolian steppes — but all of life is pilgrimage, I guess! I was studying how common pool resources like pastures are used and governed. Night temperatures dipped to −12°C (and this is Autumn weather!), so we had to wrap up warm.
We stayed in a traditional Mongolian ger (yurt, in Turkic spelling) and the views were simply stunning — enough to prompt many moments reflecting on what cosmic, driving energy creates this sort of sheer, stark beauty.
But there were also reminders that the simplest things matter too. Our nomad friends advised us that the best way to stay warm was to burn dung in our ger’s stove — mostly from cows, horses, sheep and goats. This was a truly circular economy — everything is either eaten (flesh and milk), used (bone/wool), made into products (milk/curd), or recycled (dung and the burnt ash from it).
After a long day walking through the cold, it was amazing how welcome the sight of baskets of dung could be — quiet reminders that shit doesn’t just happen, but is sometimes among the most important things around!