High up on the mountainside we are charmed by the panoramic view of Damascus city by night. This is the most popular tourist stop for bus-loads of tourists and for those Syrians wealthy enough to afford the prices. I’m getting some great landscape shots when a SMS arrives on my phone, it is from Nizam’s wife, she can’t contact him directly since he lost his own phone so she is texting me. It is in Norwegian, I tell him to read it to me, the message says “Let us talk tonight on Skype at 11pm”.
Nizam is thinking deeply about his life in Norway and his love for the magnificent illuminated city that shimmers below… his distant home. I can see his mind hard at work as he looks down into the streets where he spent his childhood, floods of memories; a life that was lost when his mother took him and her family away. “I like Norway and have no regrets about going there. I learned a lot but now I feel something is missing”. Later that night I leave Nizam locked in an intense dialogue with his wife.
In the morning we drink Arabic coffee under the sun, “I think I had my Damascus conversion” Nizam suddenly announces, “It was your blog that did it St Sean, it opened up a new dialogue with my wife, I talked about her and my daughter moving back here and she was open to the idea. I love this country I really want to make a go for it here with my family. We could spend the winter here and the great summers in Norway”.
The hotel attendant joins us. “What are you filming for?” Nizam tells him of our road to Damascus, explaining how he has been a disciple to St Sean’s journey. The attendant holds up his hands and says “St Sean I want to be one of your disciples too, I will look after Damascus when you are gone”. Thank you I say, you have my blessing. “But what is the message?” he asks. “The message is there is no message”, I tell him. He looks bemused for a moment, smiles and agrees. “Ok” he says, “There is no message”.
How easy it is to get a following in this ancient biblical land I think to myself.