Turkish tea and the inquiry of life – Istanbul

A storekeeper stops me on the cobbled stone streets in the heart of Istanbul. Intrigued by my mandala shaped necklace around my neck, he inquires.

“Where did you get it?” “From France,” I say.

“Sit and have some çai with me, he offers.”

It’s an open air street, strewing with stores, cafes and people walking by, so I feel comfortable to accept his invitation. Everyone drinks çai together on the streets, here. It is kind and customary to accept the tea.

“Ok.” Adorned with long hair and vintage clothes, he walks over to the juice bar to get us two Turkish teas. Here, he points. Here, You have the chair.”

“Where are you from? Where is your home? he asks. “California,”
I answer. “Oh California, a good life, he bursts with enthusiasm!”

I add that I am currently traveling and living around the world with my husband.

Somewhere between çai, my husband and and California, my new acquaintance asks me about my faith in God.

“My experience of God is universal,” I simply state. We are all God, I would normally say, however in this moment, I knew best to keep this little secret to myself. Smart choice.

“So, what do you believe?, he asks me. Well, I don’t have a belief system. “Who do you think made you?” he continues.

He touches my arm and pinches lightly. That hurts, no?
“No, I say. “But if I did harder, it would, right. You are made of something other than yourself, yes?”

He smiles and comes closer. “Who do you think gave you life?”
Where do you think you will go when you die?
Because you know everyone dies. You will one day.
And when you die you will meet with God and
You will either go to heaven or hell.”

What an enlightening conversation, I think to myself. One of the most engaging conversation in several days. 🙂

“Allah will have a book in his hand. The Quaran. If its in the left hand you go to hell if in the right then you go to heaven. There is no pleading once you are there.

Intrigued by his sharing in complete detail and unwavering faith, I choose to stay and listen to his perspective. After all, isn’t that the gift of traveling to other countries? To learn new perspectives and truly listen with a compassionate heart and ears.

“You know, you are not alone, he says to me. You have angels with you.
One here, there and there, he points over both sides of my shoulders. I see that your eyes are open. You can see.

You know, he continues to share. Angel Michael and Gabriel were the messenger angels who came to Muhhamed and whispered in his ear.

How old are you, he asks?”

41 almost, I say. He hears 31. I correct him. I am actually 41 years old. You don’t look it. He points to my arm. You look like a teenager. Quick on my toes, I say. “Well, I live a healthy life. I eat healthy.”

“So how long would it take you to tell me your whole life story of 40 years? 3 minutes, 2 days, 3 days? Take your time, he says.

“Wow! That would depend on the details of my story. I prefer to live in the present moment, though.

“Ok, then. Where were you for you Christmas 3 years ago?…10 years ago?

I celebrate Christmas with family, but it’s more of a family holiday. While I no longer practice Catholicsm, I do enjoy my relationship with Jesus. It has always been very strong.”

You could be Islam? Have you read the Quaran?

Actually, I picked up a pamphlet yesterday at the mosque and that I was thinking of picking up the Quran to learn more. One thing I enjoy reading about the Quran is that it celebrates many prophets like Jesus.

He leans over, so I can hear his voice through the crowd of people walking by.

“Do you believe that Jesus will make a second coming, he asks?”

“I don’t know, I answer.”

He looks me straight in the eyes with all seriousness and says, “Jesus is here already.

He is in Istanbul.”

With that he excuses himself to meet with a customer and I just about fly off my chair.

Whoa. A surge of energy fills me up and lights up my whole being lifts, along with the little hairs on my arms.

“Don’t worry,” after returning from inside the store. I must look a bit “off center” with the news he shared just moments ago. For it was quite a visceral experience.

“You will hopefully hear of his appearance in about a year. Hopefully. He will be 35 years old. We don’t have that much time. Not even 50 years. My English is not so good. Perhaps there is a reason we have met at this time. Read the Quran.

We are not as your people say we are.

The world was created in 3 days, he adds.”

What will you tell God that you did in the world? It is important to share your gifts. God wants good for his people. We are each small, like sand, We awaken for ourselves, not for God.”

Whoa. That was awesome! Time to travel on, now.