A few days from now I will be embarking on a new journey.
No, I am not starting out on a new direction for my life. Nor am I doing anything earth shattering. Nor am I seeking to change the world. But, perhaps I am seeking to change myself.
This journey will be to Morocco. It will be a journey into the past, and into the present, and into the future.
I am undertaking this journey for two primary reasons, which are both equally important to me.
The first reason is to honor my father, who passed away in November 2021; and to respect and honor my Islamic brother, Ahmed, who became part of our family when he came to the US from his home in Morocco as an exchange student in 1963. As Ahmed said when he spoke at my fathers funeral: he has visited us in this country for six decades now, but we have never had the opportunity to visit him in his country. This is the time.
I am really looking forward to getting to know Ahmed’s country better, and to visit him in his home in Rabat for a couple of days at the end of the tour. I’ve always looked up to Ahmed as my big (though usually physically distant) brother. I am really looking forward to spending some quality time with him. I (and I am sure Ahmed, too) will be thinking a lot about my father, Allen Jr., while I am there.
The second reason is for friendship. In 2012 I met a delightful and loving man named Aziz: a peace activist. He is co-founder of Mejdi Tours, which specializes in “dual narrative” tours focused on bringing justice and peace to people and countries all over the world.
Aziz’s organization utilizes speakers and tour guides representing a broad range of perspectives on all “sides” of various political, cultural, economic, historical, etc., conflicts in the country of the tour. One gains a much more wholistic perspective on the nature of a country and its people, and the challenges it faces. His tours promote understanding and connection in places that often have very little of either.
Aziz led the “Dual Narrative” tour of Palestine and Israel I was on in 2012, and we became friends. We’ve briefly crossed paths several times in the years since, and this will be the second time I’ve been able to travel with him for an extended period.
So, as I pack and plan and ponder, my mind worries about my wife – who will be generously and bravely “holding down the fort” – even to the point of helping our son run my church’s live service broadcasts while I’m gone. …Quite something for someone who was raised atheist and even now rarely attends church.
I worry about the church too, since with our Minister on Sabbatical and me gone, there will be no resource knowledgeable about the technical details of our video system should something break while I’m away. …But it’s only two Sundays: I’m sure they’ll manage!
And then there’s the myriad details of making flight and hotel and train and limo reservations. Making sure all my paperwork is in order. Making sure all my electronic and photographer gear is in good order. Making sure my packing list is complete, and nothing is forgotten. Making sure things that need doing are as well organized, hassle-free, and self maintaining for my family as possible. Lots to do.
I am glad to see you beginning this journey with me. My goal is to blog each evening, presenting my readers with photographs and narrative based on the day’s experiences. I will begin “blogging” on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, after I arrive in Morocco. See you then!