Location: Marrakech, Morocco
In 2012 I was traveling with one of my best friends, Jonathan. We had spent the past several months studying in France and we decided to get away for a week and go to one of the countries at the top of our list, Morocco.
We were both in awe when we arrived in Marrakech, stepping into the city was like stepping into a new world compared to our home in France. During one of the days of our trip we wandered into the souks. The souks are a chain of streets covered with a canopy extending through alleys and leading you through a crammed web of shops. You can buy just about everything in these shops, knives, clothes, spices, drugs and a whole manner of things that I won’t take the time to list. Shop owners are loud, persistent, and don’t take no for an answer. They will drag you into their shop and if you look or touch anything they assume that you are ready to enter the bartering process.
We soon figured out that the best way to “shop” was to quickly and quietly walk through the streets quickly glancing at different items that interested us. As soon as you make eye contact with the shopkeeper, they will do everything in their power to sell you something unless you get away quickly. Our method worked rather well, we still had the occasional run in with a shopkeeper, but we were much better off than when we arrived as long as we kept our eyes down and didn’t stop moving.
The problem is that we all have our temptations; we all have something that catches our eye and gets us off the path we should be on. That day Jonathan and I both had the same temptation. We were making our way quickly through the souks stopping only if we saw something we were sure we wanted. We avoided the calls for “spices, clothes, swords, goats,” etc., but then we heard it that one thing that made us both forget the rules of the souks.
“Falcon! You want to buy falcon?” I looked up and made immediate eye contact with a scraggly Moroccan holding a caged falcon. In my mind I immediately searched through every passage and sequence that involved me owning a falcon and bringing it back to France, where I could sit in class with it perched on my arm or have it fly out my dorm window to soar in front of the mountains. Snap back to reality, there is no way I’m getting a falcon through customs, but I’d made eye contact. Worse yet, I was smiling at the man with the thought of owning a falcon. I looked at Jonathan and knew we’d both just had the same daydream. We both knew what had to be done to get away from this before we got dragged into a lengthy ordeal in this man’s shop.
As the now ecstatic Moroccan man ran towards us, falcon in hand, Jonathan and I made a telepathic plan. I wanted to stay, I wanted to at least see how much it was, but there was only one option that was the right option. Run. We turned and ran as quickly as we could because the temptation was too strong and it was only growing stronger as we stood there.
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 says “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up. Again, if two lie together they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone and though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not easily broken.”
We all have our temptations and the devil knows exactly what it is that will tempt us more than anything else; what it is that will cause us to look up and make eye contact. That eye contact brings us one step closer to a place where it is even harder to run. But with a brother there to strengthen us we have somebody to uphold us to our standards, to help us flee from temptation.
In this scenario buying a falcon wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but making rash decisions by yourself is unlikely to end in greatness. I needed somebody there to make sure I came to my senses. We all need somebody to make sure we keep to our true self, who helps us flee from temptation, and avoid eye contact.