One Stone at a Time
Creating Change that Lasts
I first saw the pyramid from the back seat of a car, whizzing its way through the now-familiar Cairo traffic. That iconic shape seemed to hover in the hazy sky over the crowded skyline, appearing like a mirage in the midst of apartment blocks and new construction. The three pyramids and their companion, the sphinx, were once far out in the desert, but the city has reached out to meet them, and the bustle of urban Egypt lies now almost at their bases.
The pyramids are impossibly old--thousands of years, in fact--and despite the hubbub of energetic entrepreneurs selling camel rides, belly-dancer costumes, and plastic pyramids and the press of tourists from around the world, there is a sense of stillness about them. I climbed up to the base of the Great Pyramid and placed my hand on the chiseled surface of the stone, cool to my touch despite the warm sun, and felt a sense of connection to time beyond my understanding.
My time in Egypt has ended and I am on my way home. I have had a last meal with my dear friends, sitting outdoors in the cool Cairo evening, eating and laughing together and smelling the fragrance of shisha smoke. I have said good-bye to my wonderful hosts, unable to thank them enough for their warmth and generosity to me. And this morning, my 747 lifted off through the early-morning fog, slipping over the green fields and mud-colored towns of the Nile delta before heading out over the Mediterranean towards Greece and on to London.
I have had a life-changing experience, learning far more than I could possibly have taught. I have been welcomed into a culture very different from my own, yet warm and engaging. I have had the fun of speaking to large audiences, meeting privately with parents who wanted my help in learning new parenting skills, and training teachers and those who will continue the work of Positive Discipline in Egypt. And now I leave my new friends to the really hard work: the work of creating change that lasts.
I thought about this as I stood with my hand on the pyramid. The Egyptians are skilled builders; their history is filled with creativity and perseverance. And they will need all that skill and determination as they build a new government, and as my friends work to create peace and connection in families and schools. Real change--the kind that endures--isn't built in a week or a year. It is built as the pyramids were built, one stone at a time. The ancient Egyptians didn't have cranes and power tools; they didn't have horses. What they had was many hands to do the work, determination, and great patience.
Now, sitting in Heathrow with a massive case of culture shock (I said thank-you to the security agent in Arabic when I landed, much to his consternation), I know I am returning to my familiar life, my wonderful family, and my old friends. But I leave a part of myself in Cairo with people whose hope and commitment I share. Stone by stone, family by family, I believe they will create change that lasts. And if we all can do the same, perhaps we can create a more peaceful, hopeful world. Salam alikum, Egypt.
| Posted by cheryl | Monday, March 26, 2012|