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Wadi Rum – ’vast, echoing and god-like’

TE Lawrence – Lawrence of Arabia – once described Wadi Rum as “vast, echoing and god-like.”

A view of majestic Wadi Rum
(Photo: Dan Wooding)

He was writing about the maze of monolithic rockscapes rising up from the desert floor; imposing, towering rocks and crags – God’s skyscrapers – that are all over this stupendous and timeless area of Jordan.

Having been a traveling journalist for more than 40 years now, I thought I had seen and experienced just about everything in this world, but I have to say that a visit to Wadi Rum with other Christian journalists on Thursday, October 14, 2010, with four four-wheel-drives vehicles that raced and bumped along as they weaved in and out of the rockscapes.

Time seem to stand still as we saw the tents and camels of the Bedouins of the area who still practice a semi-nomadic lifestyle, grazing their flocks of sheep and goats for months at a time before packing up their goat’s hair tents and moving on to better pastures.

Bedouin boy on a camel in Wadi Rum
(Photo: Dan Wooding)

Then our Jordanian guide took us inside one of the spectacular rock formations and showed us carvings that had been created many years ago by people who had lived there which portrayed aspects of their life and then we were taken to a nearby tent and enjoyed sweetened tea served to us by the ever hospitable Bedouins.

TE Lawrence, in his book, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” wrote, “Our little caravan grew self-conscious, and fell dead quiet, afraid and ashamed to flaunt its smallness in the presence of the stupendous hills.”

I felt just the same. Just traveling through this incredible area, one can only marvel at God’s breathtaking creation.

Our group of writers from all over the United States, then settled onto the sand for the highlight of the whole experience and we watch the sun quickly dip below the rocks and then a full moon appeared. It wasn’t long before literally thousands of stars, some with the faint glow and others shining brightly and glistening, appeared. It was like watching a tapestry of celestial spheres.

DVD cover of Lawrence of Arabia

As I looked heavenwards, I was brought back to early when I felt my cell phone suddenly vibrating; it was a call from my wife Norma in Southern California. So there, right in the middle of this great and spectacular desert, we were connected and I was able to share with her what I was seeing so she could enjoy a word’s-eye view of such a wonderful, yet nightly event, in Wadi Rum.

In a world so much of hate, violence and ugliness, Wadi Rum provided for me, an incredible experience of drawing closer to God and marveling at his great creation.

And by the way, much of David Lean’s epic 1962 movie “Lawrence of Arabia” starring Peter O Toole, Alec Guinness and Omar Sharif was filmed on location in Wadi Rum.

But if you want to experience the real thing – you are going to have to visit there yourself.

For more information on Jordan, go to www.visitjordan.com

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