"And the lesson to myself was this: Always lookup. You don’t want to miss a thing...
I had decided last minute to attend the retreat in Nuweiba with a group of strangers because I needed to get grounded.
After three years of being away – living in both England and Norway – I had returned to my hometown in Cairo to reintegrate and it felt hard. Everything looked the same, but everything felt so different. Turns out, I had changed. And the re-entry culture shock I was feeling felt overwhelming. Where did I now fit in?
So this retreat was the ideal way to regroup at a time when I was feeling much inner turmoil. And there really was no place more perfect than the ever-expansive Sinai peninsula.
During my week there, I arose at dawn most mornings and took pictures of the rising sun, which appeared just across the sea in all her glory. Then in the evenings, I watched as she went down. One particularly amazing evening was spent up in the mountains. We did a sunset meditation with Tibetan bowls – the sounds permeating the peaks and valleys surrounding us – as we said good night. A typical Bedouin dinner of chicken, rice and vegetables and potatoes capped off the evening divinely. I felt very fortunate to have these experiences and, after only two days, I felt as though I had traveled an entire journey with the group and it felt like we had known one another for years.
My year in Norway obviously got underneath my skin in many ways because I just couldn’t seem to get enough of mother nature and her wonderment. If you know anything about Norway, it is that it is absolutely magical. With a year of snow-capped mountains, glistening blue lakes, and the sun’s light pouring through the elongated, obtuse clouds in a way you’ve never seen, it was impossible not to want more. So back in Egypt, I tried to hunt down ways to be next to nature and to experience the sky’s light in as many ways as I could.
One particular experience that stood out to me during this trip was on my first morning in Nuweiba. I made sure to set my alarm to get up before the sun rose. It was still dark as I positioned myself next to my rickety khosha (hut), right in front of the sea, a blanket wrapped around me, a cushion behind my back for comfort.
I pulled the blanket around me tighter to keep me warm, my eyes transfixed to the shoreline. I made sure not to blink very often. Any minute now.
And then it happened.
I watched in awe as the sun made her debut for the day. It occurred to me how quickly twilight turns to light. It all unfolds within minutes before it’s over, so you have to really watch in order to truly witness it.
Here she is, I thought, excitedly. Welcome sun! Bit by bit, she made herself known, casting her sparkling rays all over the sea like a fishnet, reminding us of her presence, sharing with us her light. She was radiant and warm, majestic and proud, powerful and all-encompassing. As she rose higher and higher, I breathed in and out. This was a moment. And this was a teaching moment.
I waited for a time before taking out my trusty journal to scribble the lesson down. And the lesson to myself was this: Always look up. You don’t want to miss a thing because, like the dawn, in a flash, it’s gone.
I smiled to myself. Feeling peaceful, serene, and satisfied, I knew now why I was where I was. It was just where I needed to be. And it was all going to be okay.
"After the trip, I felt that I had taken a step forward in my spiritual growth...