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Finding God on the Nile

Rick and I experience the Nile on the felucca "Blue Sky".
Rick and I experience the Nile on the felucca “Blue Sky”.

Ask any Egyptian what the Nile River means to his people, and he will surely tell you that it is Life.  For millennia, its waters, silt, and nutrients have nourished the lush farmlands that line its banks.  The abundance of fish still provides a vital food source for Egyptians.  Man has harnessed the power of the mighty river as a renewable energy source.  And still now, as in ancient times, the Nile is a major transportation thoroughfare, connecting one community to the next, ferrying people, goods, materials, technology, and information.  Rick and I wanted to experience what it was like to be on this proud and vital river.   Seizing an opportunity to ride a felucca, or traditional Egyptian sailboat, Rick, our friend Tarek, and I boarded the good ship “Blue Sky” for a casual outing on the Nile.

Our captain Mahmoud, a third generation felucca owner, proudly takes us on his sailboat to explore the beauty of the Nile.
Our captain Mahmoud, a third generation felucca owner, proudly takes us on his sailboat to explore the beauty of the Nile.

We left the shores of Luxor about an hour before sunset.  It had been a brutally hot day, and it was only now beginning to feel tolerable.  A barefoot, slender and jovial man named Mahmoud was our captain, and his first mate was a teenager who barely cracked a smile but worked hard to please his boss and his passengers.

knldsnm
All along the Nile, scenes like this making you pause for a moment, catch your break, and take it all in.

Our last nine days of research and scouting to prep for two upcoming TV shows on Egypt had been intense–physically demanding and mentally exhausting.  We did twice as much as what would typically be done in that amount of time.  The overstimulation of dramatic ancient sites, cacophonic voices constantly overlapping in a language and in decibel levels I was unaccustomed to, the relentless bombardment of historical and cultural information, and the visual flurry of everyday life were pushing me to the verge of sensory overload and breakdown.  Yet somehow, being on the water instantly helped me find an even keel.

As we headed south, this felucca took a northward--and therefore downstream--route.
As we headed south, this felucca took a northward–and therefore downstream–route.

The Nile flows from south to north.  As our sail swelled in the wind, we sped southward.  Being late in the day, most other feluccas were headed downriver, back to their docks in Luxor, leaving us nearly alone on this wide waterway.  While Luxor is nowhere near as hectic as Cairo, it is certainly more boisterous than its neighboring villages, and that became wholly apparent, even from a distance, as we sailed farther and farther south.

Daily life on the Nile.
A slice of daily life on the Nile is captured as a fisherman searches for his favorite place to catch dinner for his family. 

The scenery and sounds changed, morphing from the bold to the blissful.  Endless buildings lacking personality gave way to endless palm trees and lush reeds.  Motorboats became virtually extinct while fishermen in rowboats peppered the shorelines, hoping for one last bite before day’s end.   The honking horns of cars evaporated into the distance, and the songs of birds became a temporary soundtrack for a supple afternoon on the water.

Every now and again, one of us would comment on how beautiful everything was, but mostly we stayed quiet, as if it were a sin in such a setting to break a solemn vow of silence .  In that stillness, my senses became more acute:  colors seemed more vivid, sounds became more distinct and individualized, and scents were suddenly crisper.  As the sun set, the sky put on a spectacular show, silhouetting the shoreline scenery and bathing the desert and riverside oases in golds, pinks, oranges, and purples.  I reflected on the experiences of the last nine days–all that we had seen, all that we had learned, all that we had experienced.  Gratitude filled my heart and I felt my tensions dissolve into the Nile, carried northward, downriver, far, far away.

It is in moments like these that we can find a connection with the divine, and know that we are all a part of it.
It is in moments like these that we can find a connection with the divine, and know that we are all a part of it.

Sharing this moment with my life and travel partner, I stood on the prow of the felucca, gazing from one shore to the other across cerulean waters.  Jubilant birds soared above proud palm trees.  Layered calls to prayer echoed from four different villages.  The warm desert breeze caressed my  sun-kissed cheeks.  I was more consciously aware than ever before in my life that I was in the presence of God.  He was there with me, of course, as He always is: in the ripples of the water, in the reeds that swayed slowly along the shore, in the flight of the birds, in the changing colors of the sky, in the wind that filled the sail, in the voices that sang his praise, in the tears that were now streaming down my face,  and in everything around me and within me.  I had never felt so completely a part of Creation than in that singular moment.

It was there, on the Nile, that I came to truly understand that God–no matter if you call him God, Yaweh, Allah, Heavenly Father, the Creator, the Divine, the Supreme Being, Mother Nature, or even nothing at all–is a part of everything and everything is a part of Him.  And because we are all part of the same creation, we are all connected.  We are all equally precious.  We are all divine.

20 thoughts on “Finding God on the Nile

    1. Exactly, Kat. The same is true in our daily lives. That’s one of the many great things about travel: the experiences we have help us to see our “regular” lives with a new perspective.

  1. Wow! I think this could be my favorite post of yours so far… I really felt like I was right there with you experiencing the Divine in every ripple of the Nile. Thank you Trish!

    1. Thank you, so much Nikki. You know how inspired I am by your travel stories, so it means a lot to me that you follow this, and that you’re enjoying it. Your kind and generous words carry great weight with me. I hope all is well with you, and that I get to see you again soon. We miss you! xoxo, T

  2. This is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing such a personal moment. What an amazing opportunity you’ve had to experience the timeless aspects of life on the Nile and the divineness of Nature.

  3. Thank you for sharing your God given gift of being a superb writer, describing The beauty of the Nile

    Patti

  4. Trish, thank you for your beautiful words. They have touched my heart when I really needed it. Enjoy your journeys.

    1. Barbara, thank you! I hope you find peace in whatever you’re going through right now. I’m glad that what I wrote gave you a sense of solace. We all have the means to connect with the divine within and without, when we allow ourselves to be open to it. Be well, travel well.

  5. I loved the way you describe the feeling of what you see so eloquently, makes you feel that to just “BE” is so important wherever you are..

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