W elcome to the Burning Sands. It is here that we will answer some of those questions regarding a time-honored and traditional phrase and aspect of fraternities and sororities. Please be advised... this will be done so as not to divulge private, or privileged, information regarding any organization in particular, but will hopefully serve as a foundation for understanding why we as fraternities and sororities participate in various rituals or traditions. It is only when we understand the past that we can truly overstand the present!
W hy do we, as "Greeks", travel across the "Burning Sands"? That has been a question that has puzzled not only non-members of Greek-Lettered organizations, but members as well. Very few members of these organizations have a clear understanding of the "journey across the arid sands of the desert", known to many of us as the journey of the weary traveler. In order to help place this whole process into perspective, let us first examine a well-known story in the bible about the trials of a man by the name of Jesus in the desert, or "wilderness" (Isaiah 35:1) as the bible states.
A s stated in Matthew 4:1, Jesus was led out into the "wilderness" to be tempted by the devil. This "wilderness" is not just a wilderness in the literal since of the word, but it can be translated as a place among the unbelievers, or a place where the Lord dwells not- a place of sin. How do we know this? Well, if one were to just browse through the Old Testament, he would find that the references to tabernacles being constructed are done so in the wilderness. For those of us who may not know, tabernacles were built to house the spirit of Yahweh (YHWH). If the spirit of the LORD was present, what would be the purpose of the tabernacle? There would be none. Thus, tabernacles were erected so that the spirit of YAHWEH (YHWH) would be among the unbelievers. Where there is no spirit of Yahweh (YHWH), there is sin.
T his brings us back to the desert, or wilderness. For those of us who are members of these Greek-lettered organizations, what does this have to do with us? Well, for one thing, when a person lives a life of sin, he is constantly faced with temptations of the flesh. The "burning sands" represents those trials and tribulations that we are constanly faced with in our daily lives. The practice of "crossing the sands" represents our triumph over the temptations of the flesh, when we must rely on the assistance of another to successfully make it across ths burning sands. Just as Je'sus was tempted in the wilderness, or the desert, we too are tested in our daily lives, and we need to rely on a strength greater than what we possess (2 Corinthians 12:9 "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness..." ).
T here is also the journey when some are taught that they are the greek traveler, coming from the deserts of what is known as "Africa" crossing the sands with one mission in mind. "Bringing knowledge to those who are without." When he crossed the sands he found a people who were in need of knowledge. Kind of like Paul in the book of Acts when he found a group of greeks who knew of GOD, yet they did not know "who" GOD was. They erected an alter to the unknown GOD, whom they worshiped, but did not know. It was then that Paul taught them about the plan of ELO'HIM whom Jes'us preached about. With this knowledge they could then give worship to the LORD, YAHWEH.
F or those of us who are members in these organizations, we should take the meaning of crossing the burning sands to heart, for it is embedded in our soul. For those of us who are not members, you too cross burning sands daily. Rely on a strength greater than your own.
* information provided by the Alpha Beta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc