From Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Spiritual Counsels II, Spiritual Awakening, pp. 168-169.
"At Mount Sinai, I was impressed by the Bedouins, who had nothing to offer. But still, they gather some very small stones that are different from the others, or if they find a few leaves in the cracks of the mountain, they gather them and go up and leave them on the rock which Moses struck with his rod and water gushed out. Or the mothers who are nursing their babies go there to drip a few drops of their milk with the thought, 'May God grant me milk to nurse my children.' You can see the gratitude they have. It is not a small matter. And look at us. Those Bedouins will judge us. They leave on the rock little pieces of wood, a few leaves, some bright little stones...Has God any need of these? No, but God helps because He sees the good heart, the virtuous disposition. This is how their good intentions are expressed."
There is a second story here that I now realize is also worthwhile to convey, besides the lives of Sinai saints, and that is the one of the Bedouin of the Jebeliya Tribe. Their way of life makes it starkly apparent what we in the West have largely lost. And that is simplicity, day-to-day trust in God's providence, as well as humble acceptance of suffering if that is God's will. They have an incredible amount of love within their family, that extends even towards us outsiders, and a strong sense of community with their extended family and greater tribe. The love the husband, Hussein, has towards his wife, Hoda, and vice-versa is amazing. He is grateful to God for her and feels she is more precious than any money to him. He fully realizes many people, who are far more wealthy than himself, are unhappy in their family life, while he is extremely happy and grateful for what he has. I have an incredible photo of him interacting with his niece who is disabled with cerebral palsy. It shows the intense love and tenderness between them. But I cannot show it publicly. The photos included in this post are also of his beautiful niece, which I do have permission to share.
I truly believe we, Christian as well as non-Christian, have lost something as a result of our crumbling culture and may not even realize it.
The Jebeliya Tribe is historically peaceful and has maintained a symbiotic relationship with St. Catherine's Monastery for over 1400 years. St. Justinian the Great originally sent 200 Roman soldiers, along with their families, to serve as protectors for the newly built fortress monastery. These families then intermarried with local tribesmen and formed the Jebeliya Tribe of today. Despite having since been forcefully converted to Islam, they have continued to remain faithful protectors of the monastery from less friendly neighboring tribes.