Returning Before the Arrival

Back in November of 2009 I stayed for three days at a Coptic Orthodox monastery in the desert of Wadi Natrun off the road between Cairo and Alexandria. I wrote at text shortly thereafter reflecting on my visit, and hoped to publish it, both here and at Arab West Report, shortly thereafter. I even anticipated doing so in this post. A preview post on the value of monasticism was also published.

Unfortunately, the monk who welcomed me in my stay found flaws in my presentation, and did not want the text made public before correction. Often in life, one thing leads to another, and delays happen. In December we needed to finish our peacemaking project before the calendar year expired. In January and February we finalized the report writing. In the Spring I began participating in shared management of our organization. The result, however, was this text – requiring substantial revision but lacking an urgent deadline – getting pushed to the backburner.

Then came word that some of my friends from the Coptic Bible Institute were organizing a trip to the monastery, and I quickly signed up. Though I had phoned my friends the monks there several time on occasion of Christian holidays, speaking of my revised text to come, a coming visit was finally able to push me into action. The text has now arrived in the inbox of the monastery, and I hope to be able to discuss it tomorrow with my host.

This may wind up being another false pronouncement, but for those of you who have been following our blog since November (and who may have been intrigued enough to let this thought settle into the recesses of your memory), I hope that publication of my reflections may be near at hand. My stay had a great impact on me, and I hope my thoughts may open up to you a largely invisible world. Monks, after all, stay in the desert for a reason. They prefer isolation and obscurity.

At the risk of undue exposure, part of which may be influencing the holdup of the text, I hope you can gain an appreciation of the faith and practice of the community of roughly 100 men. Their testimony is human, but it is inspiring all the same. Perhaps you can read it soon.

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