Home       Articles       Books       Food        Contact

Friday, October 8, 2010

Traveling Mercies

I’m leaving for a trip to Jordan in the morning. My 10-year-old son keeps pleading with me not to go. He began reading online news and tracking with world events at an early age when the Americans found Saddam Hussein in Iraq. We’ve spent a fair amount of time in France so he’s particularly tuned into the current travel advisories for Americans there.

When another chance to see Jordan came my way, I didn’t even hesitate for a second. Petra and Wadi Rum are hands down two of the most incredible places I’ve ever been in my life. Going to these places is like taking a time machine back a thousand years. At Petra, I climbed for a day to a monastery carved out of the ragged earth. Two of my friends hoisted me up into the doorway and I said a prayer there for my husband—a really important prayer.

So I’m going back tomorrow, and I’m going to climb that hill again and pray a new prayer this time. I’m going to drive through the desert and watch the shadows move across the dunes, I’m going to snorkel in the Red Sea (where I saw Lion Fish last time), and I’m going to walk through the Roman ruins of Jerash and look across the valley from where Moses stood surveying the Promised Land.

So many people have told me not to go. This isn’t an absolute necessity, they say. Why would you risk it if you don’t have to? A friend argued yesterday, “You can’t say you’ll be safer in Jordan than in Macon (small Georgia town). You just can’t!”

It’s true. Al Qaeda is active in Jordan and there have been attacks there. I stayed in a hotel that had been bombed the last time I went and will stay in yet another that was hit by a rocket this time. So why go?

Well, why jump out of a perfectly good airplane and plummet toward the earth until your shoot opens? Why float across a summer sky in a hang glider like a falcon surveying the canyon beneath him? Why climb a mountain so high you need an oxygen tank or trek across a precarious glacier? Why sail uncharted territory?

Because life is wonderful. It really is. I believe this as much as anything I understand in this life. And I want to live it.

So I tell my son I’ll be okay and I’ll come back to him with pictures and trinkets. I take him to a dollar store and ask him to help me pick out treats for the Bedouin children I’ll see. And I promise to take him to Petra someday.

No comments: