Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Editor (05/27/10)
TITLE: The Dawning of Truth
By Karen Pourbabaee
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Introspection. Examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings. I’ve lived a lifetime of it. The warmth of golden rays brought a tingling to my skin, a strong sense of being alive. The radiant sun warmed the sea and caused a dazzling dancing light show upon the Galilean waters. So ethereal. Light…truth…we all search for it. It is the sustenance of the spirit. But what is truth? I am journeying to discover it. I think in some subconscious way, I have been drawn here, though I don’t fancy an admission of this sort. Driving this route to the Sea of Galilee for many weekends, it has become my place of introspection.
Jerusalem became my new home last year when I accepted the position of Editor at the “Agnostic Times”. I was told I was perfectly suited for it, with degrees in journalism, philosophy, and world religions from the best of Ivy League universities in America. Several years working at both newspapers and magazines, and of course, my stand as an agnostic, completed the perfect package.
My name is Taliba, Arabic for “seeker of knowledge”. Little did my Saudi Arabian father know the aptness of my chosen name. He calls me “princess”, but the dictionary would describe me as such: “one who believes it is impossible to know whether there is a God or one who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess atheism.” (1) My bookshelves are adorned with the works of T.H. Huxley and Immanuel Kant, as well as modern day theorists, and volumes on the major world religions. I am an explorer of other’s thoughts, indeed a seeker of knowledge or truth. Huxley wrote that “Agnosticism may mean no more than a suspension of judgment or because of insufficient evidence a rejection of traditional Christian tenets.” (2)That’s me…in a perpetual state of suspension. Then there’s the issue of faith. Kant states that “belief in divinity can rest only in faith.”(3) Faith is something I have been unable to just conjure up, even in this city considered the crossroads of faiths.
My editorial work in Israel has been exhilarating. I share my enthusiasm as an explorer of other’s thoughts with the world, gaining a wealth of experience at this global magazine. I collaborate daily with brilliant minds, intellectuals who believe that one cannot know the existence of anything beyond the phenomena of experience. . They do lack what some may call the “faith factor”. Is that good or bad? I contemplate this on my retreats to Galilee where I again pour over my volumes on agnosticism and religion. My state of suspension produces greater angst within me.
Life in Jerusalem defies “suspension of judgment”. “Focus ,“ I tell myself; but the sights and sounds of faith are all about me. Five times a day the mournful “adhan”, call to Islamic prayer, resonates throughout the Old City. It is a soul stirring reminder of the faithful multitudes. Walking past the Western Wall, prayer-shawled pilgrims pray toward the ancient Holy of Holies. At daybreak the plaza is transformed into an open air synagogue. Christian church bells joyfully announce calls to worship. Yet some Christian pilgrims solemnly traverse the Via Dolorosa reliving the agony of Christ.
Today, sounds of the adhan jarred me from sleep in the darkness of early morning. After tea, I slipped out into the first light of dawn,tracing the labyrinthine paths through the Old City. I strolled past the Damascus Gate and soon the gold Dome of the Rock beckoned.I arrived at the Western Wall, adorning my head with the blue and white prayer shawl offered, wanting to be anonymous among these pilgrims. Approaching the wall, my hands embraced the strangely smooth stone, polished by human hands that have touched it in prayer through the centuries. I had prepared a short written prayer to the God who might listen, simply asking “God give me faith.” And as millions before me, I placed the prayer into the crevices of the stone.
As sunlight washed over the Western Wall, I felt a strange sense of peace overwhelm me.
“Taliba, can you tell me how you have come to believe?”
My heart raced as I slowly turned to face the voice.
Footnotes: (1), (2), (3) Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
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