Sunday, June 1, 2014

Call to Prayer

Aya Sofia, Deep in the Night
My hotel room hangs out over a well-traveled street.  Next door, a young businessman walks the block, encouraging tourists from around the world to choose his restaurant for supper or drinks.  "Welcome!" he says, loud enough that I can hear on the second floor.  "Excuse me," he steps across to intercept another, "why won't you look at me?!"  Through the wee hours of the morning, he gets a bit more aggressive.  As I'm falling asleep, his is the last voice, every night.  "Excuse me!"  "Welcome!"  His restaurant, by the way, is called The Lady Diana Restaurant and Welcome Place.  Go figure.
Aya Sofia, the apse
There are mosques on all sides.  Huge mosques.  The muezzins' call to prayer is broadcast, loudly, emphatically, urgently, through the streets.  Early this morning, just after four, I was awakened by the singing, the imploring, the reminding.  It was beautiful.  And though I'm not always thrilled to be roused from deep sleep, there was something very, very special about it this time.  To be reminded--from beyond--of the divine context of my waking and sleeping and living.  To be invited to return my praise, in gratitude; and to cleanse my heart for God.

Just after their call, I drifted back to sleep, aware (just barely) that rain was following heavily on the city.  Raindrops, gusts of wind, the prayers of the city: it was easy to sleep in this morning!