Call to Prayer



“Allahu-akbar!” (God is Great!)

The call to prayer. Oddly, one of the things in Pakistan that have brought me comfort. “Oddly” because I am not Muslim, nor Christian, nor religious for that matter. But there is a certain quality to the call, the muezzin’s voice inviting and pleading at the same time.

It inspires a similar feeling to one I had years ago while in Oaxaca for a summer. Dealing there with bouts of illness, loneliness and various existential crises of the mid twenties, I sought solace in churches. The silent, cavernous structures, brought me peace and stillness. I had been brought up areligious, atheist, and this behavior, these experiences were incongruous with my upbringing. And yet they brought me solace.

There is, in the heartfelt call to prayer, in the solemnity of a church, something that grabs at me. Something that grabs, right at the center of my chest, and says: this is home. This is home. And the breath gets pulled inside by my lungs, almost involuntarily swirling right into my core, expanding and resting there. And for a brief moment, just before the exhale, I know: this is home.

Baba Nityananda, a holy man of India, once said: Heart is the the hub of all holy places. Go there and roam in it.

I can’t quite roam there yet. But I can steel glimpses.

“Allahu-Akbar!”

The muezzin’s voice carries from an amplifier just a few feet from our windows. It is an invitation to pursue the breath into the center of my being, and there find home, just briefly catching the holiness of it. And then I exhale. It is an invitation I did not expect from Pakistan, the invitation to my own heart.

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