Letters of Life

How Many Miles To Babylon?

Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

I found myself reading the flight destinations off the flight board at the departure terminal in Nairobi, Kenya. Kinshasa, Entebbe, Dar es Salaam, and my favorite, Zanzibar.

These are the kinds of places you only read about in the papers, in Nat Geo, Time magazine. I looked at these names with a sense of unbelief, they are fictional places still.

I remember my first time off the beaten track took me on a two-hour plane ride from post-glasnost Moscow down towards Georgia. Maykop (“my-cop”) was a grey town, still in the middle of a long Russian winter, near the Black Sea. We were there to give out abbreviated bibles to schools and visit hospitals.

Thoughts of these vast distances traversed in the past brings this old rhyme comes to mind.

How many miles to Babylon?
Three-score and ten.
Can I get there by candle-light?
Yes, there and back again.
If your heels are nimble and light,
You will get there by candle-light.

The world can seem so small and so large all at once.

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