Saturday, April 05, 2008
Edirne, near the Greek border, is the last city in Turkey where Baha’u’llah was forced to live in exile outside of His native Persia. During His time, it was called Adrianople. I took a three-hour bus ride from Istanbul and stayed for five days. As we cruised past city and farmland, I sat in a comfortable seat next to a big picture window, and imagined the hardship Baha’u’llah and His family endured in 1863 during a bitter, harsh, winter while traveling on foot for twelve days with little protection against the elements. Baha’u’llah’s son, Abdul-Baha, nineteen years old at the time, suffered frostbite on his feet that caused him pain the rest of his life.
In Edirne, very near to the house of Baha’u’llah is a wonderful mosque called Selimiye, built between 1568 and 1574 and now considered one of the highest achievements of Islamic architecture in the world. As it is at every mosque, shoes must be removed before entering, and women must put scarves over their head. Standing inside, I felt a bit like an observer since I am not Moslem and people were praying. I pray as well, but do not know the proscribed practice of Moslem prayer to be followed. It includes facing Mecca, saying a verse, bowing, turning the head to face left and then right, kneeling and prostrating with forehead to the ground.
I am now back in Istanbul, in a wonderful part of the city called Sultanahmet. Rug shops are everywhere, and little bistros, anchored by the Palace Topkapi, Hagia Sophia, and the Blue Mosque, also called Sultanahmet.
I have made more friends, and as sometimes happens, offered all kinds of delights, high and low alike, but I choose to be careful and not lose my head in pursuit of every pleasure. THE DREAM gives me the best satisfaction, and it unfolds astonishment that is pleasure enough for lifetimes.
Each day, the weather lightens, and now, as if all of sudden, bright tulips are blooming everywhere. Turkey claims that tulips are its own native flowers, and only later arrived in Holland. I am grateful I have seen them here in their eye-catching beauty. Tomorrow, bright and early I go to the airport to catch a flight to my next stop—Athens, Greece.