Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

From Such Darkness We Are Born: Or, Why God Believes in Atheists.

My world was dark until 30 seconds ago when the velveteen voice of a Muazzin—one who calls Muslims to prayer—drifted into my dreams. I am neither a Muslim nor a Christian. I am nothing but a man, but I find an affinity for those who search for Love, Wisdom and Morality. The Muazzin’s melodic voice, amplified by bull-horn speakers fastened atop a stuccoed minaret, descends upon this city reminding me that devotion is manifest through both words and actions and that our love should be repeated many times each day, every day…

ALLAHU…AKBAR…the long drawn syllables of these two words pour over space and time and suffuse the atmosphere with unassailable beauty. Muazzins from other mosques around the city awaken and a musical round of harmonic devotion begins. I am neither a Muslim nor a Christian. I am nothing but a man, but I love the call to prayer…

The last wails from a distant mosque drift and fuse with the clamor of the waking world. The eastern horizon’s hold on night has come loose like the slow uncapping of a plastic egg. I set aside my dreams and lie upon the faded pillows of my couch, folding my arms behind my head to improve the view outside my window. A morning dove warbles and preens on a bending branch just beyond my balcony. Below, a dog knocks over a water pale, woofs and scutters off. I rise and stretch and yawn like a lazy lion.

Before long, the white enameled kettle on the grease splattered two burner stove is boiling and steaming. I turn off the gas and spoon two heaps of Dunn Brothers’ dark roasted Sumatran grounds into my plastic coffee press. I lift the kettle off the stove, tip the spout and watch a thick stream of hot clear water pour over the grounds, extracting their dark essence from within. I place the lid and screen over the press, leave the coffee steeping and go back into my studio to gather the dishes I scattered about the night before. Wedging cups and bowls, pans and utensils between curling clenched fingers, I walk gingerly back to the kitchen and deposit the flea-market of dishes into my sink. The rich aroma of coffee has already filled the air around the room. I take the ball of the press and force the rod and filter down, through the water, to the cylinder’s inner base. The liquid inside turns completely opaque.

A few minutes later I’m standing on my balcony sipping my Sumatran. Beyond the courtyard’s scallop-roofed shanties a perfect nickel-sized sun shines listlessly through the fog that has wrapped the world in a blurry gauze. I stand on my balcony and sip my steaming coffee. Shadows hang in the morning mist—dark apparitions trapped in the vapors of a rainy, ink-washed night. Even from up here, I smell the earth and think about my mother. Spring is her season. I remember watching her once while she was planting. She spread her fingers and sank them long up to their webs and balled a palm-full of earth like an ice cream scoop and raised it to her nose. She closed her eyes and inhaled the decaying, musty loam…and then she smiled knowingly.

From such darkness we are born.


  • A more beautifully descript intertwining of ethos, logos and mythos was never written. And this is a wink in time of course. I came looking and here I find you, half-way across the world: within it and on top.

    By Anonymous Anthropomorficus, At 12:59 AM  

  • Larry: Your excellent prose has lifted my spirits and made my day a little better than it was before I read your posting. Thank you.

    By Anonymous LeRoy Hayes (Victoria's Dad), At 12:16 PM  

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