“We’re a long way from the farm…” is a phrase uttered many times between Dr. Mentor and me on recent trips. Although we grew up many states and some years apart from one another, we share a common rural upbringing that was far from exotic. I didn’t even know how to imagine things I’ve experienced on my last few trips. I’m grateful and humbled.
Our most recent trip was back to Lebanon and Jordan. I love these countries. The people. The beauty. The history. The FOOD. And when you teach, it feels like a rich conversation. I feel more like an extrovert that at any other time, but it is really just people relationally honoring my introversion so that I feel socially safe.
On a day-off excursion in Jordan, we were treated to a luxury camping experience in the middle of breathtakingly beautiful desert. Camels roaming about and more stars in the sky than I’ve ever seen, Dr. Mentor and I just sat in the quiet presence of our lovely hosts. My curiosity was skyrocketing as I imagined what ancient feet passed through this same patch of land and what thoughts had been wondered by the minds connected to those feet.
Then I rode a horse. Into Petra. I don’t ride horses. I believe horses are beautiful and to be feared….like the ocean and Helena Bonham Carter. However, the opportunity to experience a wonder of the world on horseback was temporarily bigger than the fear. My horse guide, Mohammed, led me into the ancient city while excitedly asking me about how many cowboy hats exist in Texas. I became relaxed and then even connected to the horse. I asked what the horse was called only to have Mohammed say there was nothing. So, now that I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name, I feel strangely settled.
Even with all the exotic beauty and unusual adventures, the people I’ve met are the source of joy on these trips. I’ve begun friendships that already feel lifelong. They are caring and committed to building community rooted in love. They are authentic and full of life. If I’m honest, the fear of horses was a playful distraction compared to other fears that almost prevented me from ever traveling to the region. However, as I have so quickly experienced the receiving and giving of sincere compassion from my new friends, I more understand the paradoxical reality of how fear displaces love. Thanks friends. See you soon.