Good morning from Al Ain!!! It is another warm Saturday morning here in the desert. I arose early and pushed myself out of bed for a stroll within the wadi. Climbing down the dusty bank, I entered the rocky plain of the wadi. Across the way the date palms gently rustled in the morning breeze. Looking closely, I saw ripe clumps of dark dates awaiting harvest soon to come. Wandering off in the direction of sunrise, I approached the wadi fork — decision time. Do I wander along the trees to the left branch or along the rocky hills off to the right? Today felt like a hill day, so off to the right.
I often wonder what the area would look like if, instead of dry serpentine pathways, these wadi beds were flowing rivers. I imagine all along the banks different species of trees and maybe even various animals within and below the branches. Gardens would flourish, providing food and flowers. People would be fishing. Right now I would be swimming. What a change!
Climbing the bank and then scrambling up a rocky peak, I am reminded just how dry the land is. All around, mounds of loose sand cover the landscape. The lower sky is tinted a faint brown as particles of dust fill the air. Occasionally you can spot hardy small bushes braving the beating sun. Small islands of trees and bushes survive only by the daily watering by man. A green football field stands in stark contrast as the sprinklers fight to maintain the grass for play.
Life is difficult for man and plants within the trials of the desert. Al Ain town throws down the gauntlet as Al Ain continues to expand within this desert area. More and more people and businesses arrive to make their home in the desert. Food, water, power — all must be brought in to support this growth. All over the world, growth challenges the resources available, never more so than in a desert.
I walked back eventually and took my bottled water and made my coffee. Opening the refrigerator, I selected my navel orange from Spain for breakfast. Toast made from imported flour complemented my coffee. The morning shade under the carport was still adequate for a time to sit and read prior to writing this note and going off to work. I love the morning.
This week is a week of marking special events. In older times, people would gather large stones to make a monument to mark special events. People passing by would see the stones and ask for the story associated with the monument. We all have traditions, our monuments of our sort. Parks have monuments within them. I remember seeing signs along the highways for “historical markers.” There are many signs of special events, successes, disasters, and people. All we need now is the time and curiosity to stop and ask, “Why?”
Today in Muskegon, several of my high school classmates are getting together for a reunion. I am sorry to be across the world and missing it. Our North Muskegon High School class has never been big on selecting reunions at the more traditional time since graduation — 5th, 10th, or 25th anniversary. We seem to be life-event oriented. This year is no exception. 2012 is the “Oh my, are we really 60?” year. I am sure we have all aged gracefully and look much better than at high school graduation. Have fun!
The end of Ramadan is coming to a close. The month will end sometime this day and the celebration of EID begins. Next week, schedules will return to a more normal state. Daytime meals will resume. The month of fasting finishes. I will watch to see the effects on the country after this special time.
Michael and Jana made it to Baton Rouge to enroll Michael in LSU, marking yet another major landmark. Michael is our final child to enter university. Abby will be returning to Michigan State this fall, and the other three are done with undergraduate studies. We look forward to the next great celebration as all finish university!! What will we do without all the expenses?
The final landmark of the week is a VERY special one for me. Thirty two years ago, I married the love of my life, Jana!! The marriage day seems like yesterday. I still see this beautiful, blue-eyed blonde walking up the church aisle. My smile beamed in unbelief that this woman would choose to marry me! That day I became complete. Since that day, Jana and I have lived the adventure of life together. Marriage is not something to take lightly and give up on in times of trouble. Marriage is a sacred commitment to live in a covenant relationship. Sure, I fail often and rely on the grace of a loving wife. I am a man after all. I am far from perfect. Our covenant was that in all times, good and bad, we would remain together. Our secret? Our secret lies not in our strength or our wills. Our secret is living grounded firmly on the Rock that holds us together securely and guides us faithfully in His grip.