Why we need to live connected lives
There were no mishaps in the past two weeks of traveling through Israel, and crossing the border into Jordan and Egypt.
Photo credit: Camel driver’s young son
No mishaps landing in San Francisco, getting through customs, or driving north to Oregon. Until.
Until — just ten minutes from home — my tire blew.
While waiting for the emergency roadside service, four young men stopped. They insisted they could have the tire changed in a few minutes.
Cole, Jon, Quinn and AJ lived up to their promise while I stood in amazement. They were polite and smart and worked well together as a team.
“Do you always stop and rescue people?” I wanted to know.
Cole, the tallest, answered with modesty, looking a bit embarrassed: “Yeah, we try to help people who look like they need help.”
Quinn, Jon, Cole and AJ — knights in shining
Whoever raised these fine young men: Thank you for doing such a fabulous job teaching them good manners, work ethic, and thoughtfulness in rescuing damsels in distress.
But there’s more to the flat tire story: After my four new friends from LaPine drove away, I got into my vehicle and turned the key. Nothing. Absolutely, completely, utterly dead.
Which means I placed another call for roadside emergency service.
But before they could arrive, a female state trooper stopped and charged my battery.
“Wow, I didn’t know state troopers offered battery-charging assistance,” I said, while thanking her.
“Only for special people,” she replied with a grin.
As grateful as I am for these stellar young men, for this polite and helpful state trooper, it reminded me that in our travels in the Middle East, my nieces and I came across mostly kind, considerate, generous people.
Locals pointed us in the right direction; they made sure we got off at the right stops while using public transportation.
There was the Muslim family in Nazareth, owners of our AirBnB rental, who invited us to share the iftar meal with them, the breaking of the Ramadan fast. Unforgettably delicious roasted chicken, white fish, rice, sauces, humus, pita bread, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.
There was the Jewish couple, friends of my niece’s friend, who met us and provided a walking tour in the area of our apartment near the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem.
There was the Palestinian Christian tour guide who invited us to share the noon meal in the shade of their balcony overlooking Bethlehem, prepared by his pregnant wife. More amazing Middle Eastern food: roasted chicken, a seafood dish, lamb wrapped in grape leaves and steamed, a cucumber dill salad.
On our ride into Jordan, I exchanged email addresses with a young German couple who offered to host me the next time I visit Germany, and who I hope will take me up on my invitation to lead them on a hike or two when they visit central Oregon.
While in Jerusalem, my nieces and I toured through the Holocaust Museum. Here was the reminder that atrocities have been forced upon the innocent by monstrous tyrants. Unfortunately, in our travels through this earth, we will meet rude, selfish, hateful people.
But there will also be the kind, the heroic, the helpful, the generous, the courageous, the self-sacrificing, the tireless, the extraordinary, those who rescue damsels in distress.
This from Erwin McManus:
Contact with the world—it’s not optional; it’s essential. We are created for relationship. We are born for community. For us to be healthy, we must be a part of others.
This reminds me of how important it is to get plugged into our local communities. And it speaks to me of the larger world community.
Traveling serves as a reminder that mankind in general—and here I’m not referring to the tyrants or the terrorists—all have similar desires: We want a place of our own. We want freedom and safety and provision for ourselves and our loved ones. We want our lives to matter.
It’s easier to stay holed up in our safe and comfortable spaces. To not meet new people, to not venture out in case we get flat tires.
It wasn’t comfortable, for example, traveling ten hours overnight with frequent checkpoint stops in Egypt, an armed security guard riding shotgun (literally) in the front seat of our van.
And then to climb back into the same van and do the ten-hour overnight trip in reverse back to the Israeli border.
But in between the two tiring all-night rides, we toured through the Egyptian Museum that housed King Tut’s astounding burial bling, clambered onto the pyramids, admired the Sphinx, checked out the Papyrus Institute, and held onto large furry camels as they lumbered clumsily over desert sand.
I think my nieces would say with me: We are richer because of the people and adventures we experienced these past two weeks in the Middle East.
Irwin McManus goes on to say:
Independence is one thing; isolation is another. The more we live disconnected lives, the more we become indifferent to the well-being of others.
I so appreciate that the four young men from LaPine were not indifferent to my well-being on the side of a highway.
I want to live connected; to give back because so much support and care was shown to me as my husband was dying of cancer, as I stumbled into widowhood, and even this week in our travels.
Which begs the questions: Who do you need to accept help from, and who needs your assistance?
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