Quotes & Proverbs

P1280372_resultHere are some of my favourite quotes and sayings. They’re not all about the Sinai; but they were all inspired by the deserts of the Middle East in some way. All of them resonate with my experience in the Sinai somehow; with something I felt or saw there. I don’t know exactly what it is; maybe the stillness, the silence or the solitude; the freedom you feel under the epic desert skies; or the wide open horizons, stretching your mind. Whatever it is though, the desert is a place that strips superficial stuff away; it’s the great giver of perspective and a place of transformation where a new clarity of vision emerges. A lot of wisdom has come out of the desert – stuff about life, death and what it means to be a human – as a few of the quotes below might show.

‘In the desert I had found a freedom unattainable in civilisation; a life unhampered by posessions, since everything that was not a necessity was an encumbrance.’ – WILFRED THESIGER, ARABIAN SANDS

‘Youth ages, but not the sea’ – BEDOUIN PROVERB (from C. BAILEY)

Masba Abu Garun, Go tell it on the mountain‘All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the morning to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they act their dreams with open eyes and make it possible’ – TE LAWRENCE, SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM

‘If life gets tight, loosen it by travel’ – BEDOUIN PROVERB (from C. BAILEY, in A CULTURE OF DESERT SURVIVAL)

‘But enough of Africa and her savage fastnesses. Let me lift up my eyes to the Land of Wanderings, to Sinai. In St Katherine I have put my trust. Umm Shomer stands firm. Rimhan is a bulwark. El Thabt gazes on the Red Sea. Should there be life after death, may my ghost be found worthy to flit about the summits as a small bird. That is all I ask’. GEORGE W. MURRAY in DARE ME TO THE DESERT

‘It was a sight to be remembered; that long and picturesque caravan trailing across the sand beneath the light of the silvery moon, like some ghostly cortege of the ancient world…’ – EH PALMER, DESERT OF THE EXODUS

‘The harder the place, the better the people…’ WILFRED THESIGER

Camping in Sinai, Go tell it on the mountain_result‘Wander but a few paces from the camp and listen in the solitude to the low, melancholy sigh of the night wind, which sweeps the light surface of the sand, and drifts it against the canvas wall of the tent. That breeze, laden with the voice of ages, that traverses the desert…’ – W.H BARTLETT, FORTY DAYS IN THE DESERT ON THE TRACK OF THE ISRAELITES

‘Companions make sure each other arrives’ – BEDOUIN PROVERB (from C. BAILEY, in A CULTURE OF DESERT SURVIVAL)

‘Dare me to the desert…’ – MACBETH, by SHAKESPEARE

‘The average Bedouin will cheerfully start on a journey across the desert without carrying even water or food, a change of clothing, or notifying his relatives of his departure. He does not even trouble to fill his tobacco pouch; he hopes he will meet people by the wayside who will provide him with his wants, and if they do not materialise, going without water or food for a day or two will not worry him unduly. When a people have perfected absolute freedom in this fashion one can understand the mentality that causes them not to fetter it away’ – C S JARVIS

Bedouin guide, Jebel el Deir, Go tell it on the mountain‘I loved you so I drew these tides of men into my hands, and wrote my will across the sky in stars; to earn your freedom, that seven pillared worthy house; that your eyes might be shining for me, when we came…’ TE LAWRENCE in SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM

‘When a guest comes he’s a prince. When he sits, he’s a prisoner. When he leaves he’s a poet’ – BEDOUIN PROVERB (from C. BAILEY)

‘Life is like the wind’ – BEDOUIN PROVERB

‘Their spirit once lit the desert like a flame’ – WILFRED THESIGER

‘The road is like a place where men meet and talk’ – BEDOUIN PROVERB (from C. BAILEY, in A CULTURE OF DESERT SURVIVAL)

Nagb Matarsha, El Gardood, Sinai, Ben Hoffler, Go tell it on the mountain‘No man can live this life and emerge unchanged. He will carry, however faint, the imprint of the desert, the brand which marks the nomad; and he will have within him the yearning to return, weak or insistent according to his nature. For this cruel land can cast a spell which no temperate clime can match’ – WILFRED THESIGER, ARABIAN SANDS

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