Journal entry about my time in Anafora…
It’s not too often that in the span of 12 hours one is blessed with the opportunity to watch the sunrise and sunset on top of the roofs at Anafora Retreat Center in Egypt! Meals lite by candle light, learning sessions lead by a Bishop of the Coptic Church and evening prayer illuminated by candle light and the voices of those from across the globe are all memories that will remind me of the peace that is Anafora.
Aside from the free time that was spent playing cards, dancing across the roofs of our bedroom, shopping and of course, the many times eating fantastic food, the group was able to have three separate sessions with Bishop Thomas. One session focused on humbling oneself before the Lord, the next on shedding the mask(s) that incorrectly defines oneself and, thirdly, he talked about the foundational teachings of the three Abrahamic faiths and how they relate to the conflict over Jerusalem today. Although this conversation was informative, what remained most shocking was the way in which he defined Christianity. As Christians many of us excel to model Jesus. What is often forgot within my own faith and those from other faiths is that above all physical possessions (land, money, food, water) is the sacredness of human beings.
With this said, many of us on the trip have already begun to question our role as Christians in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Should we take sides? How are we to help resolve this conflict? Is simply listening enough? …What Bishop Thomas helped me realize is that if we share with others the value of the human soul that Christ teaches we can open the door for the Holy Spirit to take control. My prayer for this conflict is that those on the battlefield and those in the board room will recognize the humanity they are fighting against. Control over one of the Holiest (is not THE Holiest) piece of land is not worth destroying the sacredness of human lives.
I’m richer from Bishop Thomas’ wisdom and faith. As we go from this peaceful place may we be peacemakers to those we meet along this journey. May the whole world be reminded that many conflicts are being fought over the claim to land, yet Jesus taught us that love and peace have no borders!
(Read 1 John 3: 11-24 or 23-24)
Well..today we head back to Cairo by train. On a lighter note, now seems like an appropriate time to discuss crossing the streets in Cairo. As David said at orientation ‘crossing the streets in Cairo is an adventure in itself and our first class assignment’. Although I passed, it did not come without fear of losing my life. There are no crosswalks or lighted signs informing you that it’s safe to cross. Rather, before one steps out they have to be determined and firm about reaching their destination safely! Making eye-contact and keeping an even keel pace is important, and when necessary RUN! In a matter of five to ten seconds one is safely walking on the other side of the street…and if you are anything like me you’re heading towards the nearest coffee shop!
Ok…well others are waiting for the computer!