Across the aisle from me the man reads from a small, bound, version of the Koran. His lips move and he visibly relaxes as the recital proceeds. Throughout, he performs modified versions of the motions of his prayer.
I reach for my gin and take a slug. Same effect…we are now both calmer…different method.
As we ready for landing I am calm. Not because of the gin I think, but because I believe that if he believes so strongly, and is such a good man that his god would not let him perish, then I must be okay sitting across the aisle from him. His puppet-master will keep me safe too.
Today I hear a woman explaining, with great conviction, about stories from the Bible and how they relate to the area of the world we are currently in (we are in Jordan, near the baptism site of Jesus and a host of other Christian religious sites).
I cannot understand. It is not within me.
Five times a day the call to prayer rises above the country, above the city, above the sea…and five times a day Turks, Jordanians, and other Muslims, take the time to gather, and wash, and pray. Together, and apart, in cities and in the country.
Christians the world over congregate every Sunday to worship, to be with family and friends, and to share their experiences.
I do not come from a religious background. I am, technically, an atheist. And yet I am fascinated by this adherence to an ideal.
I do not understand religion in my own culture…the giving over to a higher being, the belief that heaven exists (and will be better than life on earth)…but here religion is on a whole other level. It’s not just a ‘go-to-church-on-Sunday’ kind of thing…five times a day they are called upon. It’s part of their being…un-separated…non-definable…just part of who they are.
Faith, to me, is fascinating. I have often wished that I possessed that belief in something. A truth that is undeniable, unshakable, and above all else. But I don’t.
I have faith in myself…in who I am, and what I can do, in my relationship, my talents, my future…but it doesn’t come from a higher being. It comes from within me.
I guess that’s what I take from these people. Faith is faith. What I believe in is as strong as what they believe in. It’s just different.
I am currently on a plane from Amman, Jordan to Delhi, India. It is filled with Indians returning home. India is a land of hundreds of gods. I have faith that all these people believing in all those gods will see us landing safely.