Friday, October 8, 2010

Walking By Faith, and Not By Sight...or...Up Mount Sinai at Night

Thank you for your prayers...they were answered: all of them!
Last night we arrived at our three star lodging in the Sinai desert, after a long bus ride from Cairo. An authentic Bedouin barbecue was waiting for us, so we freshened up, and headed over to a tented area with decorative wall hangings, low tables and pillows for our chairs. Two Bedouin men were making bread that resembled Indian naan, only larger. The meat was delicious, but Dan and I were suspicious, because we found tiny ribs in the flesh. Just that day, Osama, our guide, was telling us how the Bedouins made clay pillars shaped like a twelve foot vases with holes in them where they raised and fed pigeons for food...hummm.
We went to sleep early, since we would be getting a 1am call to rise and shine for our journey up Mt. Sinai. When the time came, we were ready in twenty minutes, and soon boarded the bus. I was hoping there would be a full moon to light our way, but it wasn't to be.
It was pitch black when we were met by our English speaking Bedouin guide, Mohammed. He walked with us for twenty minutes to the place where we would mount our Sinai desert camels for the 11/2 hour ride. It would take us two thirds of the way to the summit. Using our flashlights, we could barely see the ground below, but could hear in the distance the Bedouin camel drivers yelling at one another in Arabic. Soon we could see the camels in a glow of yellow light, rounded up and ready for our trek. The smell was unmistakable, too!
Olivia and I were chosen first to lead the group. We remembered to lean back when the camel made his two step attempt to stand. I was told to go ahead, so, with a swat and a click of the tongue, he was, ga-loppity, ga-llop moving in a slow rhythmic stride. Where, I don't know, since I couldn't see the ground, or even my hand, so I raised my head to the sky, and what I saw took my breath away. Because there was no moon visible that night, millions upon millions of stars dotted the sky, more than I have seen in a lifetime. Some were winking and twinkling, and for the first time, I realized that the sky was alive!
And then I saw it...a shooting star. During the remainder of the trek, I counted ten shooting stars, because I kept my eyes on the Heavens. I began to sing, "I Just Keep Trusting my Lord, as I walk along...such a faithful friend...Though the storm clouds darken the sky over the heavenly trail...I can count on Him, till the very end." Even though I am fearful of heights, and could barely see the stones at the edge of the trail that the camel leaned towards, I was not afraid.
It occurred to me that many times I am worried about the road ahead, when God (like the camel), knew the path only too well. If I would have just relaxed and looked up to Him, I would have had innumerable blessings to enjoy.
I thought of God's promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as innumerable as the sands of the seas on the ground under his feet, and the stars in the sky, which were above him. Above me, I could see Orion's belt, and later on, the Big Dipper, standing on it's handle. And stretched across the sky was the Milky Way...awesome!
My camel was way ahead of the other twelve in our party, and no one was leading me, so I had the sky and trail to myself for almost a half hour. I was sad when my ride came to an end at a rest hut, where chai, coffee and snacks were served. We met the remainder of our party, and walked up to the summit together, taking another two hours to reach it. Since the air was so thin at almost 7,000 feet above sea level, we began to breathe heavily, and needed to sit down and rest on occasion. I was tickled to see a rest stop with a homemade Starbucks sign, so I took the photo for you to enjoy.
We all made it safely to the wide area just before the top to see the sun rise in all it's glory. Mario and Dan went on to the very top, but Olivia and I remained where we were and took dozens of photos as the sun burst forth and colored the rocks surrounding us. Every few minutes they changed, like time lapse photography!
The sun being fully risen, we headed down the mountain with Mohammed, our Bedouin guide, on a very rough and rocky trail which I did not notice on the camel ride. It was amazing to see people from all nations, old and young, making this pilgrimage together. It was an opportunity of a lifetime!

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Journey into the Promised Land

Journey into the Promised Land
From Egypt to Israel