Wednesday, February 17, 2010


This satellite image of the Nile River shows how stark the contrast really is between water and no-water, fertility and barrenness, farmland and desert, life and death. Egypt is a large country, but most of its territory does not have enough water to sustain life, so almost all of the population is clustered around the river and the rich delta that forms where the Nile empties into the Mediterranean Sea.

Imagine what it would be like to call this place “home.”
If you lived along that long green ribbon, what would it mean to you that the desert is so vast and the river is so narrow? Can you trust that the annual inundation* will come this year, as it has in the past? How vulnerable are you? Will there be enough to go around? How might your experience be different from delta-dwellers, who are surrounded by vast miles of fertile soil with no desert in sight?

The River helped make Egypt a rich and powerful empire. But here's the other thing--the water is not "Egyptian" water. It comes from other places, other peoples. Heavy rains in Ethiopia fill the Blue Nile and send the flood waters rushing downstream. The White Nile flows out of central Africa before joining her sister near Khartoum. And so, while Egypt flourished in ancient times through the extraordinary fertility of the Nile, that gift came from far beyond her borders.

That's a reality worth pondering. So much of what we are, what we have, what we hope for, comes from a source upriver. Isn't that as true for us as it was for the ancient Egyptians? What what is our response to such grace and generosity?

* that is, before the construction of the Aswan High Dam...

Posted by Deborah Hunley

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