Can we enter the promised land, or will we always be slaves?

My trip to Jordan this week challenged me to see the Middle East from a new perspective. I understood how Moses felt when he saw the promised land and wasn’t allowed in. In truth if any of you saw the pictures, I actually doubt Moses felt as good as I did (I’m not sure he had an infinity pool when he had that view!!).

From Fathis’s perspective, my guide at Mount Sinai was simply wrong when he thought that was where the 10 Commandments were passed down. And remember Jericho? “Where the walls came tumbling down”. Well I have now had the opportunity to visit it twice, in wholly different locations. You can probably see where I’m coming from.

The story goes (in this part of town at least) that when the Israelites fled slavery they came through here. So as I grappled with the thought of an Arab nation that was so clearly active in its support of western intervention in Syria and Iraq, I thought more about freedom, and what it means to me and us as a society, than the politics of the day.

Strange to wander a city at night and see only a handful of women amongst hundreds of men. Fortunately my hotel spared me the grotesque display of the only women being those offering themselves for rent. And it’s common here apparent, It felt odd to breakfast with the only women present being in service. Until I spotted an older Asian lady seated at the back. She had clearly avoided servitude, whether in her lifetime or previously. The vicious way she humiliated the staff made it clear to me that she was buying into an illusion of difference in who we really are as human beings. The same illusion that has allowed Israelites, Africans, Irish, Asians and others be enslaved across time.

As I reflected, remembering Tess, my aunties maid in Singapore, who’s eyes would well as she spoke of her lost children, I allowed myself to feel a deep upset for the seeming injustice of it all. And I thought of Moses and his journey from slavery to prince-hood to leadership of a people, that ended with just a glimpse of what was possible.

Had he have entered Jerusalem, Moses would have found what we still find there today. Chaos and contrast, wonder, and war. Maybe to die with faith in the future was a gift rather than a curse?

As Maria cleared away my plate, we exchanged words, with warm smiles and a connection that went beyond meaning. In that stolen moment, neither of us were slaves, or the ancestors of slaves.

In that moment we were, as we all our, human beings, joined by our humanity, our care, and our love. And while I will no doubt spend most of my life wrapped in the kind of mixed up thinking that pretends barriers create security, I hope I will carry on finding glimpses of truth. Of love. And of connection.

I am not making a political point and I know that boundaries can protect us. But the glimpse that Moses’s life was pointing us to was of the real truth, the real milk and honey. It wasn’t in the material. Fortunately.

Because despite our physical form, and material reality, we can still glimpse it every day.

If we only know which direction to look.

Gavin

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