Rebecca Ashton found home in a place she’d never visited before. How does that happen?

NOTHING PREPARED ME for the overwhelming feeling I had when I stepped off the plane in Cairo. A sense of relief ran through my body. I was back where I belonged. I was safe again. I thought this strange, though, seeing as I had never stepped foot in Egypt before.

Why did this foreign land feel like home? It was 1994, a few years since I finished school. I had always loved my ancient history lessons so I was thrilled to be seeing the pyramids and Sphinx up close. But this feeling was something else.

The rocks under my bare feet feel as familiar as an old friend; the air I breathe, warm and calming; the silence is my teacher.

Since then, the Middle East has been a magnet to me. Is it the air? Is it the light? The colour of the earth perhaps? Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Qatar, and Jordan all followed. The Wadi Rum was when it hit me the hardest. This is a place that feels like my own personal, spiritual precinct.

The rocks under my bare feet feel as familiar as an old friend; the air I breathe, warm and calming; the silence is my teacher. I belong here. But not just a feeling of belonging to this land. This land is me and I it. A place I can never leave for too long because leaving it feels like leaving my spirit, a stealing of the heart.

The Wadi Rum was the first time in memory that I have truly experienced silence. Not a bird song or a breeze through a tree. Not a seducing stream or a leaf falling through branches to earth. Just pure silence. And who would have known that silence can be deafening? Silence is also powerful; more powerful than our persistent, nagging internal chatter. Silence will completely envelop and destroy it and any small semblance of our own self-importance.

Lying against the earth at night, a sky full of infinite stars the last thing I see before drifting off to sleep. Being completely in tune with the cycle that is night and day; understanding the ancients’ celebration of returning Ra. This is what I feel when I’m in my spiritual home. A lifting of the veil between here and the other side.

A quote from Robert Christopher summarizes this perfectly:

Allah removed all surplus human and animal life from the desert so that there might be one place for him to walk in peace….and so the Great Sahara is known as the Garden of Allah.

For me this means not a separate God walking alone in the desert, but the discovery of the internal god that is in us all. Sitting in stillness with that part of us we so often neglect.

How can one feel such a deep, passionate connection to a place they have never been to before? A pure knowing of some unexplainable but very real connection to a certain part of the world? Is it just a spiritual resonance, where we vibrate on the same level and so have access to a deep healing? Is it hereditary memory inherited from an ancestor who lived or visited the place?

Or is there such a thing as past lives? Could we have once lived in these places? There is no proven explanation for any of this. Is it just our deprivation of nature, experienced from living in the city, that places like this create such a contrast? Finally we get to reconnect.

But why is it mountains for some people, oceans for another, and why is it usually a very specific place? Maybe a little of each is true. But those who have experienced the emotional explosion of finding their spiritual belonging know of its importance.

I have a friend who loves Afghanistan. Loves it to the core. At any possible opportunity he goes there. He’s not a soldier; he’s not a journalist; he’s just someone who loves Afghanistan. Most think he’s a little insane. For a relaxing holiday would you choose Thailand or… Afghanistan? I don’t think he’s insane. I just think that he’s found his spiritual home. I understand that.

Some of us have homes. And some of us have a spiritual home. A place where the soul soars, a deep and calm presence is surrendered to, and fear no longer exists. Some of us are blessed to return. Have you found your spiritual home?