Thursday, March 11, 2010

Allahu Akbar

I have to hand it to Islam. I love the sound of church bells, but they can't beat a muezzin's call to prayer.

In Beirut, it's difficult to reconcile the incessant honking of car horns, the construction drills, the conversations on the corner, or the ka-ching of a cash register with the spiritual song coming from the minarets five times a day. Sometimes I wish everything would just stop and everyone would just listen - me, the irreligious, metaphysical agnostic with a healthy respect for Christian philosophy but a belief that all religions are the same chemical manifestations of the mind taking shape through the lens of culture, the coincidence of birth; me, the fledgling disciple of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell and St. Bono the Divine. There is something other worldly about these calls to prayer, as if they exist outside of time, like they are the past, present, and future ringing out all at once. They seem to be breathing soul back into the world after humans have sucked it all out.

But sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who notices. It's a lonely feeling.

Then they stop, and everything melts into normal again, and history returns to books and the future returns to sci-fi films, and the present becomes the dissonant tick tock of a bustling clock and flesh and bones and joy and sorrow and haves and have nots. The sun goes down, the sun comes up, the alarm rings, and the labor of breathing continues. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and all that jazz.

Mysterious ways, indeed.

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