A Prayer Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul

I arrive in Istanbul and catch the last ferry to Kadiköy on the Asia side. It's a literary, artistic neighborhood away from the more touristic areas. My room is small. The bed is hard. Noise from the street enters through an old window. People talk and drink at cafes and bars outside. Tobacco smoke is in the air. Water pipes bubbling. Cars, taxis, and motorbikes. Horns, lights, weaving along Moda Street.

Early next morning, I make my way back to Eminönö and Sultanahmet to visit the Blue Mosque. I arrive just as the muezzin recites the call to prayer. I take off my boots like the others. Entering through the door, I join on the carpet. At first, I wait near the back and take a few photos. The imam begins worship and everyone streams forward. A moment of choice. What wall will I allow to exist? Where does fear and separation begin in this world of ours? Is it outside or within my heart? The question lingers, and I look around and discern an often forgotten biblical verse, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another" (John 13:34).

Why not break barriers? Why not do my humble part to unite? I stand and go forward. I join with the kneeling Islamic congregation. Yes, I am a Christian with a cross beneath my shirt. But I am now kneeling in a row with Muslims. Two men smile at me. The world would be surprised. Sunlight shines through an open window. All is bathed. Gold script from the Qur'an glistens from bookshelves. I keep the Lord in my heart. Is our God more than One? Tell me, will the Lord judge me for this? I watch the men turn their heads from side to side when the prayer comes to an end. We speak to the angels on our shoulders. I want to take a picture. It is worth a million dollars, but I will not sully this moment. There is peace and I feel the Lord is present.

 Muslims praying inside the Blue Mosque

 Muslims praying inside the Blue Mosque

Tourists standing outside the Blue Mosque

Tourists standing outside the Blue Mosque