We might declare our allegiance to a religion or to a non-religion, but either way, there will be moments in our lives when we just feel the need to close our eyes, turn inwards and try desperately to connect to something bigger, greater and more knowing than we are. No matter how amazing and above it all we feel and think we are, the fragility of our very mortality will at some point in our lives humble us to the greatness of what caused us to be in the first place, regardless of what we may call it.
The Idkah or in local Uyghur language Heit Kah mosque is the largest in China. Locals in Kashgar gather daily for prayer on the grounds of the old mosque and for celebrations in its large courtyard. The mosque was first built in 1442 as a small structure and was later expanded in different stages.
There is a great kind of dignity with the locals in Kashgar that stares you right in the eyes. I could also feel a sense being content with who they are, a strong belief and a strength from unity emanating from the people that I met during my travels in the region.
At about age 5 or 6, my sister and I used to love playing house games with the neighborhood children in our village. We had an unfinished floor in our home that was still cement walls and bricks and we created our own pretend little world there. We had a basket tied to a rope from the kitchen window on the top floor and we snuck food ingredients down in it to create our own breads, coffee and other pretty disgusting recipes that we ate with total pride. We also found there an old discarded yellow closet that we declared to be our very own church. We acquired all sorts of iconic pictures, crosses and religious signs and hung them inside the walls of the yellow closet. We would go inside it with complete reverence and pray daily for miracles. One day a miracle finally happened. We heard a big bang on the walls of our little yellow church that made it vibrate miraculously! We ran yelling in awe and in great fear with shaking knees declaring our religious status and direct connection to all that is holy. It was only a couple of years later that our neighbor Nabiha, the very same one who offered us the yummy bread from her ‘saj’, gigglingly confessed to have thrown rocks at us to make believers out of us.
photo taken: My daughter visiting a favorite church or ours in the mountain in Lebanon.
At any moment of the day, somewhere on this planet, someone is stepping out of their daily fog and taking a few minutes to try and send a signal, from here to there, from known to unknown, from visible to invisible, from earth to ether. The message is so simple as is their faith, a yearning to connect to something higher. Even in Shanghai, a city of 20 million, there are temples where you can find an incredible stillness and where people still uphold their faith.
photo taken: a man praying at the Jade Buddha temple (a very special place)
Since the tragic earthquake happened in Japan a few days ago, I did my best to keep the details from Lea. The reason is that she tends to worry so much about things, I feared opening up the subject with her would lead to some sleepless nights and a whole amount of of worry much too heavy for a six year old. This happened to us the last time she learned about fires and volcanos at school and until now we have to discuss her concerns about these issues almost daily.
Today, she heard details about the earthquake in school so naturally she came home and requested that she be informed about all the details. After a long process she decided to light a candle and dedicate a prayer (more of a private conversation between her and God really) for the people who lost their lives and got hurt, and she prayed that this does not happen again.
She also prayed as she does every night wishing for a little sister 🙂