A Beautiful Morning

Egypt: Many years ago, on a beautiful morning.

The day had come for the old man and the boy to leave the oasis where they had begun to talk of important things, and return to their travel across the desert.

The next day had come and gone as well. And the morning of a third day was already dawning as the line of camels and men walked on.

The sand glowed in all directions as the sun rose higher into the sky. They must stop soon, as they did each day, pitching simple tents to shelter them against the intense heat that would rule the next few hours.

The first day out of the oasis had been uneventful. The boy mostly rode. His uncle rode some, and walked some. The second day had been hotter and harder. But the start of the third day came to them with a measure of coolness they had not felt since sitting under the oasis trees.

The boy looked over at the old man, riding beside him. "Uncle, it feels like a good day will be ours today. Travel is easier already."

"Perhaps, my boy. We shall see. Things are not always what they seem. But we'll make the best of whatever comes our way."

"Yes. That is something you have been teaching me. I have to remember that things often look different from what they really are."

"We learn to question appearances. And sometimes they give us their secrets." The old man put his finger to his lips as if guarding his own secret, and smiled.

The boy smiled back. "I like your saying that we will make the best of whatever comes our way."

"Always remember: We don't control the day, but we can control what we make of the day."

The boy grinned and nodded. He remembered his lessons. "Our power is in our thoughts!" He spoke loudly now over a light wind that was beginning to come across the sand.

"Yes. And with our minds, we determine much of our experience." The old man stopped speaking as he heard the call to rest conveyed by camel drivers up ahead. "It is time to stop for the morning. Let us dismount and make our preparations."

The old man gently stopped his camel and quickly dismounted with one fluid movement. He then reached up to his nephew, who slid down into his outstretched arms. Loud words and a bustle of activity ran up and down the camel train as the men began to prepare for their mid day rest.

But that moment, there was a mighty booming howl of wind and sand lashing them all. The boy tasted a mouthful of grit that suddenly unleashed a primal fear. Men shouted more and pointed to the distance, where an ominous darkness was to be seen.

As one, the camels lay down where they were, in positions of protection. "Quickly!" the old man shouted. "Get next to the animal, on this side, opposite the coming darkness!"

"Uncle! What is it? What is happening?" The boy showed alarm across his young face.

"A storm! A storm is soon upon us." The old man reached to take the boy's arm.

"What can we do?"

"We use what we have. And we move quickly."

He guided the boy to crouch down, get on his hands and knees, and then lie tightly up against the side of the camel. "Cover your face. Cover your head. Look away from the storm. Close your eyes. Breathe only through your scarf." His words were calm but firm.

"I'm afraid!" The boy's muffled cry could barely be heard.

"It's good to fear, if it makes us act well. Now, it is our job to be strong, be at peace, and wait."

The noise was so loud, and the pain of the sand so striking, the whole of nature seemed to be coming down on them in a smothering attack. Seconds felt like minutes, and minutes like hours. The old man held the body of the boy tightly.

When the great wind subsided, every camel was mostly buried in sand. But none was lost. And as the men began digging out of their protective positions and standing up, shaking the sand out of their robes, it gradually became clear that all of them had survived the onslaught as well.

One driver, a very strong looking friend of the old man, came running over to check on him and the boy.

"Ali, are you all right? And the boy?" The younger robust driver helped dislodge them from the weight of the sand.

"Yes, my friend. It seems we are both blessed to be fine." He lifted the boy to his feet, and began to brush his robe. "This young man just experienced his first major storm. And, acting quickly, using what we had, it looks like we both survived it quite well."

The boy coughed loudly and spat sand out of his mouth. The old man handed him water. He rinsed and expelled the small hard particles. Both men put their hands on his shoulders. The old man said, "You were brave, my boy, acted well, and are now safe."

The boy looked up. "Oh, Uncle, I'm so embarrassed that I thought this would be a good day! I had no idea a storm would come."

"We do not often know when storms will come, but using what we have, acting quickly, and with peace in our hearts, we can endure them. Then, when the storm passes, we can still have a good day. It's a very good day now to be alive, don't you think?" He laughed out loud.

The boy looked surprised and laughed, too. "Yes! It is a very good day to be alive! Thank you, Uncle, for helping me make it through the storm, and learn even more about life. You always teach me something useful."

"And the world teaches me. When you pay attention to life, many good lessons come your way. Some arise out of darkness and wind. If we use our minds well, we can learn even from the most fearful and difficult things. Sometimes, we learn the most from them."

"Keep this in your mind: We don't control the day, but what we make of the day. And it's up to us to make the best of whatever comes our way."