Alchemical Sufi Silent Retreat – Sinai Desert 2023
‘May I Be Here Now’
The memories I’m about to relate may outwardly appear inconsequential but seen from within these experiences were so substantial that they still occupy my thoughts to this day, remaining in my memory as shrines on the wayside.
A minibus picks my friend Nicky and me up from Sharm El-Sheik. We’re oblivious to what we’ve let ourselves in for, innocents abroad on a journey into uncertainty. It’s a two-hour drive to the centre of the Sinai Desert. With continuing jihadist terror attacks, security is intense. Every 30Km our journey is punctuated with army roadblocks and checkpoints manned by peevish security agents, fresh-faced soldiers, and chain-smoking armed police, who scrutinize our passports.
I remark at how very few vehicles there are on the immaculately tarmacked highway cutting through the desert and am told that post-Covid the Egyptian economy has gone into freefall with devaluation of the Egyptian Pound and 30% inflation.
The further we drive into the desert the more inhospitable it becomes, countless miles of barren scrubland and distant soaring peaks. I ask myself: ‘How can anyone survive in such a harsh environment?’ before the exhilarating yet disturbing thought occurs: ‘You’re gonna find out soon enough, boyo!’
The sight of the desert envelopes my senses, and I wake up to the fact that this vast and silent pocket of the Earth is one of humanity’s great theatres in its search for Meaning…