Thursday, August 23, 2012

Call to Prayer

It is full dark outside, cooler now than during the daylight but still warm. A moment ago I stepped outside to get something from the car and heard the call to prayer from the local mosque in Incirlik. I hear this sound several times a day. Most of the time there are other competing noises and I catch only a few notes. The masculine, undulating melody is strange to my American ears and I have no way of separating the tones into meaningful words but I love it all the same.

Today I was very very brave and drove with the kids down to the mall in Adana. On our way we saw at least a half dozen sharply spired minarets. The mall stands opposite the large central mosque shown above. (In fact, I took that picture from a third story restaurant in the mall). As beautiful as the blue mosque is, I loved seeing the smaller minarets and imagining times past when someone would stand in the small, high opening and sing out the call to prayer without the modern day aids of loudspeaker systems.

Tonight's call to prayer comes through speakers that allow it to be heard all throughout the village and base. The reverberations create an delayed echo that makes the one male voice sound like two - a plaintive duet. I lean against the carport pillar and listen until the song fades away.  It is a surreal moment, a reminder that I am far away from the safe and comfortable, living in the strange and wonderful.

I love that there is a call to prayer five times everyday. If I remember to say a pray in the morning before my day takes off, bless the food before each meal and pray before I drop into bed at night, then my daily prayer total is roughly five per day. But its not the number of prayers that I love, its the call to pray itself. Its the moment when somebody intrudes into daily busy-ness and shouts, "Remember your faith. Remember God. Remember to talk to Him."

Now I don't claim to be well-versed in Islam and maybe I am grossly mis-representing or over-simplifying their prayer practices but that's what the call to prayer says to me. Its the same feeling I used to get driving down Evans Road at sunset, rounding the corner and seeing the stunning San Antonio temple, my temple, silhouetted against the sunset. "Remember God." 

We probably all hear calls to pray at times in our lives. Visual reminders of our beliefs or even challenging experiences can bring our minds and hearts back to our faith, back to the God we were raised on.  I have a framed pencil drawing done by an incredibly talented childhood friend of Geoffrey's, David Michael Grey (you can see his work at that link.) The drawing is of a woman. Behind her is visible a robed figure, shown from the shoulders down. The marks in his outstretched hands identify him as Jesus Christ, the Christian God. David drew the woman in the act of turning around -  turning toward him. I love the message of the piece - that we all have to turn back to God.

My next post probably won't be quite so deep, more of the adventures and misadventures of an American mom living in Turkey. I might even relate my harrowing drive home from the mall in rush hour traffic. But I hope you didn't mind my indulging myself in a few late evening reflections.  


  1. Ida, I love reading your writing and hearing your thoughts. Deep and profound or fun and light. Thank you for sharing them with us!

  2. I love that you are sharing your incredible writing talent with us through this blog! Thanks for the deep thoughts!