Merry Christmas from Istanbul!

Just one more week here in Turkey and I’ve returned to Istanbul renewed and more confident. Either the carpet salesmen are tired or I’m exuding something that has kept them from attacking me with their lure of apple tea and carpets that I experienced when I first arrived. Two people in fact, one here and one in Selcuk, asked if I lived here. What do you know. Maybe it’s the handful of Turkish words and phrases I’ve managed to lop together to give a semblance of trying to speak the language of this beautiful host country. Whatever the reason, I’m honored they would think I reside amongst them.

Before the Sufi tour slips too far away from my here and now, I wanted to share with you a few pictures and memories of those magnificent 10 days travelling with Tumata and the others on the tour.

Here are Petra, Asuman and I at our last night together for a Tumata concert in Ankara. Although others joined our tour later and left early, the three of us were together from the beginning and formed a warm bond. Petra lives in Washington, D.C. and Asuman lives in Ankara. They are new arkadas, friends.

Our tour started in Istanbul then continued on to Gokcedere for the hot thermal waters. An interesting sociological study in a heavily Muslim country and bathing suit clad men and women frolicking in a large of pool of warm water. Next stop was Ankara where Professor Oruç Güvenc presented at a conference where the former Turkish Cultural Minister was in attendance. I have video of the former minister dancing. Good stuff.

After Ankara it was on to Hacibektas, Nevsehir, Urgup and Goreme in the other worldly landscape of the Cappadocia region (right). So many amazing spiritual visits to the tombs of Sufi holy people, breathtaking mosques and scenery that was as varied as farmland, snow and this post volcanic area of Cappadocia that I would love to visit again. There are underground caves and cities here where Christians hid and where many families still make their homes today.

Then it was on to Konya for the celebration of Rumi’s death on December 17th.  Here he is called the Mevlana, or lord, and his death is honored as his urs, or wedding, to the divine. I must say as much as I was humbled by the many tombs, or turbas, we visited, I didn’t really feel anything on a deep level. Until I visited Rumi’s tomb. We went the day before his urs thinking the crowds would be very large on the 17th. As we neared his elevated tomb I felt such a surge of energy in my heart and throughout my body. It was incredible and so encompassing. I was amazed.

I went back the next day, December 17th, with my new friend, Sabiha (right). The crowds were smaller than we expected and somehow the we seemed to make it easily to the front directly in front of Rumi’s tomb. It was sublime.

It’s about 10pm on Christmas night, about noon back in my home on Cortes and for most of my family and friends on the west coast of the United States. I got a wonderful present of conversation with my friend, Michaelene, earlier this evening. This trip has been a most magnificent gift which I will always treasure.

I will say good night and share with you a portion of a poem from Turkish poet, Nazim Hikmet:

I made a journey

under the moon,

in the light of the sun and rain,

with the four seasons and all time,

with insects, grass, and stars,

and with the most honest people on earth —

I mean, affectionate like violins,

pitiless and brave

like children who can’t talk yet,

ready to die as easily as birds

or live a thousand years . . .

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~ by Tess (Piyadassi) on December 25, 2009.

One Response to “Merry Christmas from Istanbul!”

  1. Continued safe passage, my friend, on your journey under the moon, in the light of the sun and rain. My Christmas Day was filled with joy when I heard your voice, the cacophony of the far off city behind you, underscoring all that you have shared with us. You look lovely in the photos and so “at home.”

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