Gene Ort's Blog

Saint Catherine’s and Mount Sinai

by on Mar.26, 2010, under Egypt

There is a benefit to getting up early in the morning. You get to see this… all by yourself.

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Night people think I am insane. But this is worth it to me. I watched the sun come up on a hillside facing Saint Catherine’s at the base of Mount Sinai.

IMG_3336 sunrise 2

I am pretty sure I am within shouting distance of where Moses must have sat in the early hours of the morning as he did exactly what I was doing, seeking God.  To be near to God is to be changed. I am not sure who said it first, but I have read it quoted in several books. It is true. Hebrews declares: God rewards those who diligently seek him. He is the reward. A moment with God changes everything. Like a sliver light in a dark room.. it lets you know you are not blind. Mornings alone in pursuit of God are a treasure to me. I need solitude. It’s the way God made me. On this morning I was anxious to have a bit of time to myself on the hillside with God.

This is a view and a place I may never see again. It was here that God spoke to Moses the first time and told him to remove his sandals, for he was standing on Holy ground. The believed remnant of the burning bush is just inside these monastery walls and God called Moses to lead his people out of bondage here.  I confess, I was hopeful that I too would hear from God while I was here. There was much talk of Pilgrimage.

Saint Catherine’s monastery looks a lot like a castle for a reason.

IMG_3347 castle wallsThere where many attacks waged against this Holy place. The walls were erected to keep out many and diverse sources of evil, not to shield the good from God fearing believers. I think the church, when it’s at it’s best is still doing that today. Providing a refuge and a safe place to learn to know God.

The 6 mile trail to the top of Mount Sinai begins. I was surprised at just how difficult it was.

IMG_3384 6 mile hike

We hired Nada.. a young Bedouin man and a Camel for our back packs and camera gear. It was a very wise choice. He was a very interesting young man. He was very willing to share his thoughts on several topics.

IMG_3387 Nada & Camel

Two thirds of the way up the mountain, the camel path was done and the steps began. By this time my legs felt like rubber. Nada started carrying three of our packs on his back ! This was also his second trip of the day ! I was beginning to wonder if I was going to be able to make it to the top.

IMG_3419 steps with Flair

Here is Nada with three back packs draped over his body. We are nearing the top now and he is patiently waiting for us.

This was easily a view Moses would have had to have seen on his way to the top. Incredibly rugged and beautiful at the same time. Jesus was often in the habit of climbing mountains to spend time alone with God. I don’t think that was just crowd avoidance, but it works. If you chose to journey up God’s mountain, there will be many who stay at the bottom and wave you on your way. I think God wants us to know the rough climb to be with Him is more than worth it.  My feet were on fire, my calves were cramping, my arms were sun burnt, I could not drink enough water, my lips were chapped and I was sucking air. It was a little hard to take in the full depth of the location due to the multilevel discomfort.

IMG_3422 Nada and the packs

We made it to the top ! The bible says this where God gave Moses the ten commandments.

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This group shot of all thirteen of us at the top of Mount Sinai will be a treasure of mine for as long as I live.

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This might be a better way of looking at the group.. Every now and then I look through old black and white photos that have been pasted down to me.

Many images are just like this one, a moment captured in time. If you aren’t one of the people in the picture, chances are you won’t linger there for long. But if you were, you will smell the smells, breath the dust and feel the blisters and glory again in the moment you made it to the top of God’s mountain with a few close friends.

IMG_3450_2 group B&W

I had one special thing that I needed to do on top of God’s mountain.

On my desk in my office and blown up on our living room wall is picture of my youngest daughter Rachel who was killed in a car accident December 24th, 2008. In the picture she is standing atop Mount Richard’s in Colorado. We took this picture on a family vacation years ago. You never know when a moment will become a treasure. Rachel speaks to me from this picture in a couple ways. One way, she says to me.. hey… I’m right over here..I am just fine… and in another way she says to me… “I made it” Dad.. I made it !  I am saving a place for you !

Rachel mountaintop

Maybe every now and then God lets his kids in heaven see some stuff going on back on earth.. I hope He lets Rachel see this.. I want to tell her… I am ok..I have a bit more to do, but  I will see her soon..

IMG_3451 gene victory 2

Getting back down the mountain was a lot easier. When I rounded the corner and Saint Catherine’s came into view.. it looked like the garden of Eden to me.  Not a day I will soon forget.

IMG_3498 mountains on fire


2 Comments for this entry

  • J Lum

    I watched the sunrise at Monteray pier once and it was a God moment.You just get to see God moments in the real location.I’m jealous

  • Neil Martin

    Sounds like a great trip. Thanks for taking me along by taking the pictures. Can tell who the intelligent ones are by the broad rimmed hats. Did you use the trekking poles? Currently dark here as it is one of those early am times. Jane just took Christie to the airport with 18 others for a missions trip to the Dominican Republic.

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