No Phone Day: Connect with the Wilderness

By Muhammad Khalil from Tuqu’, a Tour Guide student.

The phone has become a daily reality in our lives. A comfort that we resort to in order to experience our lost social life and in search of a friendly smile across continents. On the other hand, I sometimes feel that my phone is a gateway to hell, as through its connection to the Internet, it informs me of all the horror that is taking place, of wars, deaths and victims of the Coronavirus.

With the imposition of quarantine and the cessation of work, I became hostile towards my phone. It became my enemy, causing me a headache due to so much pessimistic news, so I threw it aside and decided to challenge the quarantine and flee towards freedom, towards nature, which constitutes the largest area of ​​my village Tuqu’, the home of the Prophet Amos.

I sat on the green slopes of the wilderness, what is also known as the Wilderness of Jerusalem. I unleashed my imagination back to 1,500 years ago, to the fifth century, when the Wilderness of Jerusalem was the center of monastic life at that period of time. I began to imagine Saint Saba who, from a young age, chose a life of solitude and monasticism, leaving a life of luxury, worldly pleasures, and carnal desires to imitate Christ in His spiritual perfection and bodily purity. I imagined Saint Saba wandering around in the wilderness, picking herbs and seeds to make a hot drink of cinnamon and fennel flavored with pepper, his favorite drink, to warm and strengthen his weak body during his isolation in the harsh, cold caves of the Jerusalem Wilderness.

I cannot see Mar Saba Monastery from my place now, as many hills and rugged, deep valleys obscure my view, but I still remember its great features, as I visited it many times before. This great monastery, which was built with the power of faith and with the help of hundreds of monks who imitated the poor and ascetic Saint Saba, is still standing today despite the earthquakes and wars in Palestine.

The Dead Sea and the Moab Mountains can be seen from the Wilderness of Jerusalem. There is no doubt that Saint Saba stood here and contemplated those mountains and spoke to himself, saying that from there salvation and sacrifice began, with Ruth, the Moabite, the great grandmother of King David, until Christ.