The Adhan

The Adhan

I once sat upon a rooftop in Jericho.

The sun hung high, yet somehow felt closer than ever before. The rays beat upon my newly tanned skin and cut through the streets of dust like high beams in the Illinois fog. Sweat flowed from every orifice of my body. Excess salt crusted upon my forehead. My shirt became a rag soaked in the oils of human exhaustion.

Jill sat in the broken lawn chair to my left. Her blonde hair shimmered in desert light. Red lips, fair skin, and intellect to win, at that time, she was my delight. My head hung low. I watched the streets below. Every curb overflowed with litter and filth. Feral cats chased rats and yelled at one another. All while the people hurried to and fro. Going places I will never know.

Jill spoke and I feigned attention. I glanced over to her, posture and appearance immaculate. Even in a desert half a world away, her composure she retained. Her words came fast. Her voice was high and her smile wide. The thrills of her day she recounted to me. An expedition to Bethlehem. A late and light luncheon under the sun. The birthplace of Christ, and, and, and

I did not care. The air was far to dry. My feet were blistered. My thighs chaffed. My stomach growled. This trip was it one of mission or tourism? I no longer cared. Honest to god my only current care was one of desire for a genuine American Hamburg--

The guttural consonant-rich melody of Arabic singing sliced through the air and bemoaning thoughts alike. The people of the streets fell to their knees. Motion and emotion ceased. My self-centered contemplations surrendered to the call of the foreign religion.

All was still, and in the stillness, peace was discovered. Peace that had been within me all along. Thoughts of future and past faded to the present moment. The only moment that truly is. Revelation arrived and appreciation manifested. Spirituality, a beautiful testament to humanity, was experienced. What else worships? What else kneels in prayer? It is not that all humanity does so, but that all humanity has the capacity to value the transcendent above self. Is such the essence of holiness?

Abruptly as the Adhan began, it ended. The chaos of the Jericho resumed. I longed to remain in the present for a moment longer. Not out of some desire to convert, but out of appreciation for the human soul. The moment was my new love.

Then she spoke. It was over. I returned my thoughts to the west. I embodied the man in the fresco. Peace within my reach, yet I did not raise a finger. What happened in that moment? Well…

I once sat upon a rooftop in Jericho.