Monday, April 07, 2014

Our Wonderful World.7

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.

7. Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia began as Greek Orthodox church, then it became a mosque, and now it's a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

The whole time I was swimming my mile yesterday, I was thinking about religions. About how different religions fight to say that theirs is the true one, about the wars throughout human history that have been waged in the name of religion. There are many places (case in point, the Hagia Sophia) that have been declared holy by one religion, and the invading culture says, "Yes, this is holy...but now in OUR religion." Holy can't ever seem to be a shared holiness. Humans and our civilizations are fairly new to the planet and maybe the things we think are so important that we would kill for them are actually as fleeting as a cloud passing across the sun. It is that idea that gave me the image for my haiku today.

clouds block the sun
spires and domes are shadowed
brief darkness passes

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

Carol's lovely and heart-wrenching poem for the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing yesterday is at Carol's Corner.

Kevin's poem for today is at Kevin's Meandering Mind.


  1. I had the privilege of visiting Turkey in the summer of 2011. Hagia Sophia was closed, but we saw the outside and have wonderful memories of our day in Istanbul.
    Your metaphor is not lost on me. I wish religions could come to understand that we are all in this together.

  2. This makes me think of a Zen story that I quite like.

    One day, a nun named Wujincang asked the sixth Zen patriarch, Huineng, "I've been studying the nirvana sutra for years and years, and there are still some passages that I don't quite understand. Co you think you could explain them to me?"

    Huineng told her, "I'm sorry, but I can't read. If you can read the passages out for me, I'll see if I can help you understand them."

    The nun asked, "If you can't even read the words, how can you understand the truth behind them?"

    Huineng explained, "The truth and words are unrelated. The truth can be compared to the moon, and words can be compared to a finger. I can use my finger to point out the moon, but my finger is not the moon, and you don't need my finger to see the moon, do you?"

  3. Such big truth here, I think…

    “Hagia Sophia”

    at its beginning
    faith is a red orange crackling
    flame, noisy, hungry
    all-consuming, insatiable
    and yet called to deep stillness.

    There is a quiet call.

    Pure and undefiled
    religion tends to widows,
    cares for fatherless,
    gives without hope of repayment
    turns the other cheek.

    He speaks again.

    Abba Father says
    Child I have this against you
    you have lost your first
    love, and let gray ash replace
    my sacred burning flame.

    How easy it is
    to let the raging fire
    be extinguished ‘til
    it becomes nothing more than
    a museum exhibit.

    (c) Carol Wilcox, 2014

  4. I love that brief darkness. It feels very portentous.


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