Second Day in Istanbul

Do people of a universal human spirit,

Discern one another from out the mass?

Do depths of being arise in the human heart,

To a universal spirit of intelligence and compassion?

Oh the guide!  To have a guide is necessary in human life,

In any situation, find yourself a guide!

A teacher who sees beneath the surface:

The heart and soul of Turkey appeared to me this day.

Great artists explained their work to me this day,

In their homes and studios,

Apart from the maddening crowd,

Humble and ordinary within their greatness.

I met today with universal values,

And the depths of a culture in which

The heritage of ages lives here and now,

But the sign on the door reads: “entrance not for everyone.”

The guide lives and breathes the depths,

Beneath the commercialism and the hype,

Winding the labyrinth to another world,

Of truth and beauty and compassion.

The heart of Islam spoke through my guide this day,

And the heart of Turkey as mosaic of many civilizations,

The heart of humanity beneath the surface of everyplace,

The uniqueness in this place, the crowded bricks of the old city streets.

We went deeper than capitalism,

Deeper than warring nation-states in their brutality and ignorance,

Today, we worshiped the universal God,

In a universal mosque of astonishing beauty,

God was not there, my guide admitted, but everywhere.

The vision of another world lives here in Istanbul,

In the beauty of its art, and the humanity of its artists,

In the vibrancy of its religion, calling us to prayer from many minarets,

And in the humanity of its teachers.

Where is God to be found?

“In ordinary beings and men” cries the poet,

Where are the depths to be found?

“Just there on the surface in front of our eyes” cries the prophet.

Where is hope for humanity to be found?

In the holy city of Istanbul.

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