Floating down the Nile River on a felucca is not only a leisurely way to spend an evening, but also a good way to gain a new perspective on the importance of the river. Water is vital for survival (of course!), and here in Egypt, where there is little other water, life revolves around the river.
Before arriving, as the plane flew into Egyptian air, I was amazed to see how brown everything on the ground looked - the color of mud everywhere. Well, everywhere except for two thin strips along either side of the river and where irrigation canals had been dug. Aside from those few emerald-green squares the vast expanse of land was brown, brown, and more brown. As we flew over Cairo, the brown remained, changing only in texture - instead of brown ground, I could see lots of brown roofs and roads. Everything is dirty, dusty, and dry. Yet here in the desert thrives a metropolis - one that has been here for thousands of years. Without the Nile, Cairo would not exist. The water has been used for everything throughout history: for drinking, for washing, for cooking, for watering crops, for transportation, for fishing -- and although the way of life has changed dramatically over the millennia, the river is no less important.
Tonight while Katherine, James, and I were walking to the felucca docks in Maadi (a suburb of Cairo) we passed a church with a sign out front that said that when Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus were fleeing from King Herod, they came to Maadi and got onto a boat to float down the river to safety. It was interesting to think that this evening we boarded a boat onto the same river in the same place. Was the river as calm then as it was tonight? Was the moon just as beautiful? Did the cool night breeze comfort their fears? If this was the place that the holy family floated to safety, I feel blessed to have experienced the same thing that they did - not under the same circumstances, certainly - but on the same line of life-giving water that threads its way through the sand.
Blessed? Yes, I am.