Wednesday, January 12, 2011

11 January 2011: Muezzin

It is some time in the early morning in KL. Its at least two hours past three a.m., and I know this because Abigail still thinks its the afternoon back home, and convincing her otherwise has occupied us for most of the night. After heroic efforts by Leah to sooth her to sleep, in a desperate ploy, I began chanting the Salve Regina and other hodge-podge melodies, which seemed to go on unto eternity before I finally heard her soft breathing confirm that she had bought the argument.

Unable to provide myself the same solace, I crept past the sleeping household to our balcony here on the 19th-floor of the Gardens Hotel and Residence atop the KL Megamall. As I settle down, I am greeted by the voices of a half-dozen muezzin, calling the Muslims of KL to their morning prayers. I glance down and see the domes of the mosques illuminated among the neon and the street lights. I see too several Hindu temples bustling with worshippers come to prepare for the day. Ironic: I have been singing to put to sleep, even as they are singing to summon to wakefulness.

Last night, my family’s friend Adam, a local Malay they met working at the mall and subsequently adopted as their own, shared that across the world, the singing of the muezzin never ceases. As one time zone closes its prayers, the next one begins. Our world is wrapped in so many words addressed to God under so many names and in so many beautiful ways. It is a strange honor to have joined them in this particular moment, lifting up my daughter as they undoubtedly lift up theirs.

Our own monks chant the hours in Latin, in Greek, in Syriac, and in countless other languages across the globe. Our babel runs counterpunctually to the single Arabic strain bidding all to come and submit themselves to God. I wonder what it would like in our own churches if the Angelus bells still rang out across the fields, in places of work, perhaps over the internet or twitter, calling Christians to return to the Lord their God, what our faith could be if we shared the burden of the religious and also entered into their joy. I cannot speak for everyone - but I pray for that blessing for myself, and thank my daughter’s restlessness for granting me the grace to begin today.

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