Monday, October 19, 2009


The Old City
October 19th

One really cannot set foot inside the Old City without being inundated with the sense of devotion that drives this tiny patch of land. So much in common, so much apart, these practitioners. There is an odd thing that happens as you walk the paving stones of history, from the Christian Quarter to the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish to the Armenian. You can tell in a heartbeat where you are by the way people are dressed to represent their faith, and somehow as you cross over that difference is immediately apparent. Except you can't quite figure out what happened to the Muslim who three steps ago was walking West or the Jew who a moment earlier was walking south. They just seem to vanish, as though they walked into a fade out. Sounds crazy, I know.

On Saturday evening I spent an hour inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Lit a candle in honor of a dear friend who I thought would do so for herself were she here, but other than that simply watched, and listened, to the gentle murmur of faith. Its not like any other human sound. Reverent is inadequate to a place where Christians believe Christ was laid. The air swirls from the motion of the worshipers and the curious, the light of candles at the crypt is unlike any other, and the smoke stained walls absorb it as it passes past the faces of those who light them in devotion or memory. To stand, lens in hand, and watch this is a powerful thing. Such a counterpoint to the pain of the past two weeks, where looking into people's faces was wrenching. It is faith, in so many ways, ripping Iraq apart, yet here, distilled down to its purest form of reverence, it generates not anger, but peace.

These are images from that time of light.

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