Travelers & Tourists

A few weeks ago a couple of friends and I had the amazing experience of spending a week in Cairo. Cairo, Egypt. I know. I have a hard time believing it myself. We were with friends and we had an AMAZING tour guide who is very knowledgeable about all things Egypt and he made the experience really positive. In fact, tourism there is really suffering. They desperately need our American dollars infused into their fragile economy, so if any readers have ever considered going to Egypt, go. It’s amazing, it’s beautiful, it’s safe and you will have the experience of a lifetime.  


We did all the standard tourism things you would do in Egypt – pyramids, sphinx, camel rides, The Nile, etc.  Of course. If we’d gone all the way to Egypt and not seen any of that you’d think we were crazy. But we also did things that were a bit off the beaten path, just to have a full experience.

We had a mantra on our trip – We’re not Tourists, we’re Travelers. To us that meant that we weren’t having a neatly packaged, pre-determined experience that was designed to give us the impression that we’d experienced Egypt. We allowed ourselves to get dirty, to experience local treasures and to visit places of extreme poverty to give ourselves the full experience of an urban center. 

In addition to the great spots that everyone is supposed to do in Egypt, we visited a ministry to children in the slums of Cairo, the Embaba. One of the people we met who was a life-long Cairo resident never even went to this area until she was in her 40s. Other areas we visited had a kinetic energy that was palpable. This area had more of a desperation. The fight for everyday survival was apparent, but the faces of the children were priceless.

In direct contrast to my experience in Egypt, I spent the next week in Paris and was definitely a Tourist. Part of this was because I was alone and I wasn’t going to explore more seedy areas by myself. I saw the most beautiful parts of Paris, ate fantastic food that had been recommended by seasoned travelers and window-shopped in fancy boutiques. It was lovely. Paris has more “real” parts to it, as do all urban centers, and I’m certainly open to seeing them one day. This part of my trip was about being a Tourist, being nourished by a different type of beauty, experiencing solitude, walking and noticing.

Is one, Tourist or Traveler, better than the other? I don’t think so. I think the key is being open to whatever experience God is calling you to in a given moment. Sometimes we’re called to go deep into a situation and sometimes we’re granted rest. Each experience is rich in its own way.

Friday Five: Kicking Back Edition

The view at the end of our Sunrise Service 3-31-2013

Rev Pat Raub writes:
So, for those of us who are either pastors or beloveds of pastors or church folk of any serious commitment (and I can’t believe you’d be hanging around RGBP unless one of those! But welcome if you are….), we have all just finished the liturgical equivalent of the Boston Marathon. 26 or so long miles of steady push, followed by a sprint here, a wall there. Only difference is, at a successful conclusion, everybody wins! Which, in my humble opinion, is one of the points of Easter.

But I digress. As I write this I am sitting in a cafe about 400 miles from my church sipping a most excellent latte, waiting to have breakfast with my daughter. This afternoon I fly to see family. After that, several days of study leave….. how about you?

This Friday Five is pretty simple:

1. What, if anything, are you doing to take your Easter season sabbath? Family? Vacation? Study Leave? Some combination of all three?

If anything? Oh honey. I’m not even a full-time pastor and I’m taking a vacation 🙂 I’m leaving on 4/10 to visit a friend in Egypt and then I’m spending a week in Paris. These are a couple of places I’ve always wanted to go and I’m super excited. In Egypt we’ll be seeing all kinds of fun things, spending a day working with an orphanage and then my church geekiness will be indulged by visiting some museums.

Paris is just for me to experience. I’d wanted to go while I’m still 40 and this will get it in just under the wire. I’ve got some spots I want to go but am not pressuring myself to do EVERYTHING. I’m just going to enjoy the city knowing that this is my first visit, not my only one.

2. What is your favorite Easter season sabbath of all time?

I’m going to say the one I’m about to take 🙂

3. If you’re not taking an Easter season sabbath, what is drawing your attention as the Revised Common Lectionary bids us bide awhile with Thomas and gang? Is there a Holy Hilarity service in your future?

We aren’t following the Lectionary at my church and my pastor is doing  a series on food ethics from scripture. I will be preaching at my church for the first time in July, so I might go back and do Thomas or something Lectionary-ish.

4. What would be your ideal Easter season sabbath? If you could go anywhere, do anything, with anybody?

Again, I’m going with the one I’m taking now, or maybe a couple of weeks schlepping around Italy.

5. Tell the truth now: Any Easter candy left?

I actually started a pretty rigorous calorie restriction during Lent (actually a coincidence) so there has been ZERO Easter candy in my world. Not even a Cadbury Creme Egg, which are my fave. I’m down almost 20 lbs!