Egypt and Other Rough Places

Keniset Mari Girgis

“Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:15)

In Egypt they venerate the places where the Holy Family lived during their quiet sojourn there. Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus left their homeland and went to the country where their ancestors had been slaves.

Of old, in Egypt, God had shown His mighty power, working great prodigies to bring about the liberation of His beloved people. Now God came in the flesh to Egypt, an infant fugitive. And He spent time there in a state of perfect quiet, nursing at the breast, listening to His foster father and mother sing to Him the very songs that He Himself had taught King David to sing a thousand years earlier.

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Best Streetmap


Perhaps it will not surprise you to learn that I had a “tortured hipster” phase approximately two decades ago.

You could have found me one night at 2 a.m., at the counter in a diner on York Avenue on the Upper East Side, drinking my sixth cup of coffee and writing a poem.

The poem narrated how a group of Manhattan Indians would have landed their canoes down the hill from where I sat, long before York Avenue, or FDR Drive, or 72nd Street were even thought of, when there were mountain lions in what became Central Park.

nyc-skylineThe idea of the poem was supposed to be: the streetmap we think we have for life does not in fact give us the true lay of the land.

Basically, my nineteen-year-old self was whining about not having been given a more comprehensive “blueprint” for life during my upbringing. I felt like I needed a better, a deeper, a more truly realistic existential map.

Then I crumpled up the paper in disgust. Because I realized: that was exactly the type of thing that my father would think.

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