Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mt. Sinai and the Egyptian Desert: Wandering for 40 years

The time is here: A journey from known to unknown. We have left Turkey and have arrived in Egypt. We passed from the African side in Cairo, under the Suez Canal to the Middle Eastern side of Sinai and then the Red Sea in Dahab, Egypt.

Monday night at 1am we rolled into Sinai in two small, cramped, sweaty vans. We unstuck our bodies and walked sleepily to the large outdoor tent where the staff of Desert Fox Hostel greeted us with cups of hot tea heated by the fire. Tuesday I wandered around the desert to the oldest continually used monastery in the world, St. Catherine’s. That night the group of us set out with our daypacks to climb Mt. Sinai. I thought it would be a quick trip up, but it took just over two hours, mostly in the dark. I lit a small path with my head lamp, in between a cliff and a red mountain. Strenuous though it was, the trek proved to be more than worth the exhausting exercise. After the 752 “Steps of Repentance,” the final steps up to the top, we had a worship service while staring at the stars and down to the distant desert sands below. “When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mt. Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain. To the Israelites, the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.” [Mt. Sinai, also known as Mt. Horeb, is where Moses and Elijah met with God]. We beat the crowds who come for sunrise and had the mountain to ourselves for a few hours, but tourists poured in around 4am. I woke up to headlamps peering over from above to our mats and sleeping bags on a landing below, while foreign languages met my tired ears.

I slept a bit longer till the sun started to rise around 6am. The sight was slightly less than I was hoping for, and I thought, isn’t that exactly how God works-not at all as expected. But a few minutes later a blazing ball of fire emerged from the foggy horizon, and the view was spectacular. Perhaps this is the same Consuming Fire.

An hour later we packed our bag and took a different route down the mountain. This new path took much longer than the first, and this time the sun was beating at our backs. I got to lead the group through some of the last climbs which was an amazing feeling. This morning, Thursday, we took three vans to Dahab. Immediately after dropping our bags into the hotel rooms we made the 40 minute walk to Lagona Beach. We managed to find a semi-private section of shore and water, which was crystal clear blue. The color changed lighter periwinkle or darker navy depending on the reef deep below. I swam to the buoy and floated in the crystals aquamarine water for a long time since the temperature and atmosphere were perfect for a relaxing afternoon. The Egyptian sun bore down but it was no match for the calm, salty clear sea: The Red Sea, where God parted the waters for the Israelites and Moses to walk safely across.

Friday morning, waves are rolling, never crashing, as though they possess the lazy beach personality and opt for a rest instead. A single person stands in these calm waves, white sun beating down to reflect the dark silhouette. This blazing fire creates a white-hot pathway across the sea to the neighboring Saudi Arabia. Its mountains are barely visible in the morning haze. Away from this path dark water churns, lost without a light source to guide.

After French toast and ice coffee for breakfast, we take a two buses and a two-hour ferry ride to Aqaba, Jordan. We will be staying near the entrance of Petra, Jordan


  1. beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! i wish i were relaxing in the lazy waves of the red sea right now! I'm very inspired by your post - it sounds like a trip worth making in my lifetime :)

  2. I love your blog, as I can imagine what you are experiencing I'm sure the days of biblical times come to life for you there. God bless you! May


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