Friday, May 6, 2011

a dummies guide to world religion

Having grown up my whole life in a town fairly lacking in religious diversity, and even going to college at a church-sponsored school, my exposure to the various religions of the world has been fairly, shall we say, limited. I have always been curious about them, but I have never really been able to see them in practice. 
Until now.
Coming to Jerusalem was like going straight into a Calculus class without having taken any math classes before. Without understanding even something as basic as algebra. I come here, barely knowing what a kippa was, but without the least clue as to why they would wear one. I knew what the Western Wall was, but had no idea why is was so important. 
Talk about a learning curve. 

I found this poem, which I think tries to address the multitude of "sounds" that come from every one of these different religions, cultures, beliefs and traditions. But despite the less-than-normal occurance of having all of these found in the same place, and all practiced with such devotion, they all combine together to make a remarkable harmony of faith and devotion in God, whatever their individual view of him might be. 

Jerusalem - Nizar Qabbani
I wept until my tears were dry
I prayed until the candles flickered
I knelt until the floor creaked
I asked about Mohammed and Christ
Oh Jerusalem, the fragrance of prophets
The shortest path between earth and sky
Oh Jerusalem, the citadel of laws
A beautiful child with fingers charred
and downcast eyes
You are the shady oasis passed by the Prophet
Your streets are melancholy
Your minarets are mourning
You, the young maiden dressed in black
Who rings the bells in the Nativity
On Saturday morning?
Who brings toys for the children
On Christmas eve?
Oh Jerusalem, the city of sorrow
A big tear wandering in the eye
Who will halt the aggression
On you, the pearl of religions?
Who will wash your bloody walls?
Who will safeguard the Bible?
Who will rescue the Quran?
Who will save Christ?
Who will save man?
Oh Jerusalem my town
Oh Jerusalem my love
Tomorrow the lemon trees will blossom
And the olive trees will rejoice
Your eyes will dance
The migrant pigeons will return
To your sacred roofs
And your children will play again
And fathers and sons will meet
On your rosy hills
My town
The town of peace and olives.

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