If you had asked me 5 years ago what is my biggest fear, I would have told you “going inside the Great Pyramid”. I have a bit of claustrophobia when it comes to “old places”. I’m fine in elevators and closets but add a bit of age to on an enclosed space and I’m not happy. I hate caves, dungeons, catacombs and tombs; they totally give me the creeps.
When I went to Egypt the first time I wasn’t sure that I would actually go inside the Great Pyramid. The group had private time scheduled the last day of the trip as a culmination of our journey, the last initiation. I would just have to see. Early in the trip, some of the group went into the Red Pyramid. I stood outside. I was totally not ready to face that fear. I was pretty sure that I would go inside the Great Pyramid but I knew it would take two weeks to work up that courage.
Well, there was a plan to face my fears. The second week visiting all the temples in Luxor was so intense. A friend challenged me to go into the crypt at the temple of Dendera. I took the challenge; I didn’t want to miss the famous and mysterious hieroglyphs. So holding on to my dear friend Rachael we entered the crypt. Really uncomfortable, glad it did it, not doing it again. The next year, my friend Jenny’s greatest wish was to be in that same crypt alone. I stood at the top and guarded the entrance so she could have that experience. She loved it.
I skipped the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, not ready for that either. The next year brave Jenny helped me go in two of the tombs and the third time I went I was able to briefly handle Tut’s tomb.
After all my experiences and challenges in the temples, I knew I finally had the courage to enter the Great Pyramid. The same friend who dared me to go into the crypt said that he would be with me all the way. I was one of the first to get to the entrance and I just forged ahead, went through the tunnel and into the Grand Gallery. It was exhilarating; it felt like a celebration of my two weeks of meeting and walking with the gods. So instead of fear I was overcome with pure joy. Pure joy of the glories of Egypt. Pure joy of remembering and being. I sat on the floor in the King’s chamber for an hour, just grateful for it all. I can’t say I had a “profound” experience. My new found courage and joy were more than enough. That was my profound experience. Most to the group took turns lying in the granite sarcophagus. That was a bit much for me for I felt that I had the experience I came for and my courage still had its limits. I was glad I faced my fears and it was a process to get there but that is part of being on the pilgrim’s path.