I am typing this from sunny Cairo – yesterday there was a high of 70 degrees. Within 24 hours I will get on a plane and fly to Boston via JFK . I am reading on facebook and elsewhere that the snow is falling. Nothing like a little weather shock. Here’s hoping the beautiful snow is finished by the time I land. 🙂
So much has happened for me over the last month here in Egypt. I can’t believe my last blog entry was a happy thanksgiving and now we are on the eve of Christmas. Remember when we were little and that time between Thanksgiving and Christmas felt SO LONG? Now, it seems to go by in a split second, especially as a teacher. Within that time though, it can feel like many lifetimes are lived – at least for me.
My retreat in Nuweiba, a coastal town on the Sinai (Nov 27-Dec.1) was a great gift. I joined Lady Colleen Heller and a few others for a time of reflection, meditation, great bedouin breakfasts, music, sounding, and a few brief and cold snorkeling moments. There were many highlights of my experience – witnessing a bedouin Eid ritual in the desert including the sacrifice of the sheep, singing my original songs with some local drummers, waking each morning in my beach hut steps from the sea, meditations led by Lady with the sun and the sea, new friends, and of course my multiple Nescafes from our fabulous cook and host, Nasser. You can learn more about Lady and the work she does here: Lady Colleen.
After that wonderful trip I returned to Maadi and moved with the rest of my co-teachers into our individual apartments out in New Cairo. The move went relatively well, though it took a few days to get the hot water rolling and it’s a lot chillier out here in New Cairo. Needless to say, it has taken a little adjusting. The apartment itself is beautiful, the air out here is better, and we are now only about 5 minutes from school. I have a very nice guest room in my new place, so I hope some will consider visiting me sometime during Feb – June. Who knows where I will be after that . . . . . . 🙂
Without a car, it is a little isolating and requires many taxi adventures to get into the main part of town. Just last night we took a ride home from Maadi after some Christmas shopping and burgers at Lucille’s and I felt as if the front seat was not actually attached to the taxi car. It kept sliding as the car sped up or slowed down. thank God I lived in NYC for 11 years and trying to talk to a cab driver who can’t really speak English feels kind of normal. 🙂
In the last two weeks of school, we managed to throw together a “winter show”. Like much of this first year of ISE, we make a lot of it up as we go along and the room you need to present the concert gets finished about 20 minutes before you need to be in it.
Given all that, I think we did OK. Elementary school concerts can be a lot even under “normal” circumstances – and the logistics rehearsals – each class practicing going up on stage – almost sent me over the edge, but in the end as I listened to the fourth graders singing “I’ve Got Peace Like a River, ” I couldn’t help but smile and know we were creating something very special.
The theme was “Songs of Peace” and we tried to focus on the idea of inner peace. Here are a couple stills from the flip video.
When you talk with Egyptian children about peace, they often talk about Israel and Egypt and how we have to get along or how Sadat created a peace treaty. Through art and poetry and music, we attempted to help the kids explore the idea of being peaceful within themselves and within their classrooms. I tried not to yell too much while rehearsing the songs of peace, but often had moments of total contradiction and wondered, “what am I doing?” and “How is this peaceful education?.” In the end, I offer it all up and trust that we all did the best we could. A colleague took some great flip video of the show which I can share with some of you in person.
So, On Aug. 6 I flew to Egypt not really knowing what I was in store for and now I fly back to Boston (and then California) to spend until Jan 13 in the USA. I am grateful for it all, and especially excited to be with beloved friends and family for the next few weeks.
More than ever, I have been given the gift to feel and know that I have everything I need always and every experience, whether I think it’s “good” or “bad” is created for me to grow, enjoy, learn and remember who I am.
It is an amazing time to be a spiritual being having a human experience, whether here, there, or everywhere.
Enjoy this time of outside darkness and inside light. Know that everything you need is within you and that everything you experience is here to bring you Home. And when I say Home, I imagine a space inside of our beings and our hearts that is so expansive and connected it can hold everything – dark, light, peace, anxiety, joy, pain and we accept it all as it is with total faith and trust that all is well.
May you feel the peace, clarity, joy, and love love love that you are!