It was a 16 hour flight from Dubai to Houston, having left Damascus the previous day. The lines to get through Customs were long. When it finally came my turn, I approached the counter to see a sight not seen in my two week absence: a very white woman with red hair and freckles. “Where you coming from?” she asked. “Dubai,” I said, “I’ve been traveling in Syria.” “Syria! On business?” she asked. “No, I was visiting the holy sites,” I replied. The fair skinned Customs Agent looked at me as if I had six heads and said, “Why Syria?!”
Now, I’m not much of a movie buff, but forty hours spent on planes can tempt one beyond resolve. Ladies and Gentlemen, I went to Syria. This trip could not have happened without good folks helping to pay the bills and make the plans, for which I am humbled and grateful. Yet, one of them begged me: “Please don’t come back with only pictures of goats and dirt!” I thought of this when, on the return flight from Dubai to Houston, I watched the movie, Men Who Stare at Goats. But it was the movie The Blind Side, which I watched on the way over to the Middle East, that touched me the most and, to be honest, in many ways reflected my experience as an American Orthodox Convert in Syria.
Here’s the blurb from AFR: Fr. Joseph’s not much of a movie buff, but he was recently “blindsided” in Syria. This special thirty minute episode details his recent pilgrimage to Syria, and a certain “Paul” whom he kept bumping into while there. You’ll need to listen all the way to the end to discover the answer to a question he’s now asked: “Why did you go to Syria?”
The Orthodixie Podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.