Sunday, September 29, 2013

The aura of places

In my first days in Jerusalem, I thought about the secret of pilgrimage and asked myself what drove me out of my native country and brought me to this holy spot. Could I not have touched the essence of holiness in my soul while secluded in the desert close to my homeland? If a place can reveal what is inside us, and travel can bring that to light from the depths of our being, is it not possible that humility, chastity, the monastic life, and constant prayer and glorification of the Lord can bring to light divine grace and the saintliness that is latent within us? Where then lies the aura places? Is the aura a secret inside us that pervades places when we reach them after travelling with impatient zeal? The awe I felt when I reached the walls of the Church of the Resurrection, did it arise from my sense of the imposing building, or was it from the meaning implicit in the event of the resurrection itself? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? As God, how could he die at the hands of men? Is man able to kill and torment God, and nail him to a cross?
— from Azazeel, by Youssef Ziedan.

I expect the coming weeks to be a time of slow reading, much needed; some reflection to still my mind. I have begun reading Azazeel, by Youssef Ziedan. It reads very fluidly, but it is packed with history and religious doctrine, neither of which I'm particularly well versed in.

The monks and priests who serve the Church of the Resurrection are good and simple, and most of them warmed to me when they learnt that I practise medicine and the art of healing. They were not interested that I was a poet.

I'm hoping that this slowdown in reading will afford me the mental space to catch up on some writing — I've read plenty of books recently and I've yet to discuss some of them here.

Also, the class I signed up for on Coursera — Søren Kierkegaard – Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity — starts next week. (You can sign up too!) The reading assignment for the first week consists of selections from Plato's Euthyphro and The Apology. No doubt I will be noting interesting passages here on this blog along with commentary as it occurs to me.

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