On one of the doors of the old wall hangs a lantern. Fathi comments that I am a well-known writer, whereas he is still struggling for recognition:
“Here we have the origin of one of the most famous of Arab proverbs: “light only illuminates strangers.”
I reply that Jesus made the same comment: no-one is a prophet in his own country. We always tend to lend value to what comes from afar, without ever recognizing all the beauty that is around us.
Of course, we are fascinated by what is far away; we hold in contempt that which is near. We often find our own efforts to be too little, the efforts of others to be so much more. What can we do, who are so imperfect, to improve the world and spread the light?
I think this is why Jesus says, in the Gospel of Thomas, "Be passersby." We need to look at what is in our life as a traveler would see it: with fascination, with interest, with wonder. We, as gnostics, are tempted to sink into the distant past, to immerse ourselves in myths of archons, templars, bloodlines. We don't create our own myths, our everyday heroes, and instead these are created for us for Public Relations purposes by those who would control us.
"Be passersby." As in the parable of the Good Samaratin, even a passerby can be of great help and compassion. But although his help meant the world to the victim whom he helped, the Samaratin did what he could, in the short time he had, without attachment, without need for repayment or thanks.
The Johannite list has been alive lately with calls to activity. Perhaps we need to see our surroundings as visitors do, and take a pilgrimage through our own lives. Perhaps, in passing by, we can see where we can do good.
[The irony, of course, is that it took Paulo Coelho to point this out to me. The man lives in Brazil, and travels all over Europe and Asia. I can find the exact same words in a book on my bookshelf, and I've known them for years. And yet, it takes a source from several continents away...]