I have been here in the city of seven hills for 1 week now. It is difficult to come up with the right words to explain the complicated beauty and surreal atmosphere of this place. Istanbul sprawls herself over 7 steep and expansive hills. This crossroads location and her inhabitants are both friendly and guarded. The language (related to Hungarian) is not intuitive and is quick but poetic. The streets are moving constantly with both speed and leisure, cars and buses careening up and down hills, around curves at breakneck speed dodging one another politely. No one seems to ever become angry for long. Or terribly concerned.
I have come to love the calls to prayer that ring out over this city. There is something ethereal about a city of 18 million inhabitants being corporeally reminded to recognize their maker. While Islam is a faith of law & works, and Christianity is a faith of grace, I think each learns from the other in this place. That brings me to the magnificent 8th wonder of the world.... the Hagia Sophia. This structure built for worship has passed between the netherworld of competing faiths several times. Built in a time before machinery to honor GOD, it now stands as a museum where frescoes of Christ, Mary, and the Angel Gabriel are neighbor to Koranic script. It is a stunning place that inspires still... worship and deep emotion.
We also visited the Blue Mosque where worship still continues. For me, the Hagia Sophia was stunning and moving, and it's sheer size brought me to tears literally, but for beauty and a sense of the sacred, the Blue was special. I particularly loved the children playing on the carpet prior to prayer call.
This man for instance, who comes in the cool of the evening to smoke and quietly observe the teams of people streaming by his spot on the hookah porch.
There was nothing to worry about in the end, GOD is still in charge.
This man was sitting on his porch,
waiting patiently for sundown.
He is my neighbor.