Archives for posts with tag: Istanbul

I was in the middle of a palace garden, sipping a latte with brown sugar, waiting for the girls to come back from the washroom … again. Everything felt like magic – something I was feeling with every breath since arriving in Istanbul.

It was sometime after the sluggish remains of jet leg crawled off my skin, but much before the peaceful protests would turn to tear gas and water bombs, and even longer before I’d sit beside crowds of formerly trafficked sex slaves breaking bread with me.

I looked at that latte, looked at the gold-framed gates leading to The Bosphorus and multi-million dollar mansions lining the strait, looked back at the latte again. Magic.

It was the spring of 2013, and I was on a trip I begged Cindy to let me join. “So, what does a girl have to do to be invited on this trip?” I began. It honestly wasn’t long before I was saving up for a trip my boss wasn’t too keen about me leaving for.

“Sex slaves? Prisons for young criminals? Eastern Europe? Three weeks without you here?” He had become more like a father than employer during my time in that office. He wasn’t entirely thrilled. “Email me, please. Email me often.”

It was a simple trip: go to Eastern Europe, adjust to the time change in Istanbul, travel through Moldova to meet formerly trafficked girls and give warm bread to kids in gypsy villages. Hang out in an orphanage, a boys prison in Lviv, and then, go home.

I had been so caught up in myself.

I was too caught up in myself, and to be certain, I was exhausted of it. When the opportunity came to get outside of my own head, I bolted. I begged. I received, and it was magic.

I thought about this event much like all of my favourite moments. It came out of nowhere while I was closing up the expensive purse store, lining up clothes in perfect order and thinking too much of myself. I’ve been exhausted of being inside my own head, again. Always. And this image of me in loose green pants and a white tee enveloped my senses. Brown sugar, espresso, Bosphorus. There wasn’t room for freaking out about my degree, a job, a love or even eating right.

I’m reminded all of the time about these moments because my head knows I need it. I need to be reminded that even when the world is about it birth something big, I don’t need to repeat the possibilities in my head.

I think we all do that; we consider all of the possibilities until we drive ourselves mad and incapable of simply being available to a moment. Whether it’s a relationship, a job, a big decision, or even a personal health goal. I’m convinced more than ever that overthinking is a disease.

See when I went to Turkey, Moldova and Ukraine, I was told over and over about the possible dangers lurking around every single corner. I was told about kidnapping and war and violence. But I didn’t give myself to it. I accepted that I didn’t know what would unfold, and experienced something so beautiful I think it might actually have been magic.

I wonder sometimes if I need to do that in my everyday life? You too?

I wonder if I need to set aside all of those things I couldn’t control in my mind or my life, sit down with a cup of joe and simply feel the magic instead.

You know, we left Istanbul for Chisinâu just a few short days after we arrived. I met up with the girls the next morning after a typically awful sleep. Cindy handed me her iPad with a news story staring back at me. “Did you hear what happened yesterday?” She said. Of course I hadn’t, but it turns out we left the day Istanbul was breaking their peaceful protests for unrest.

“Wow,” I said shocked, tired, feeling a little guilty. Cindy mentioned her gratitude and guilt too, as if perhaps we should have been there or been able to get everyone out of there if we were going to leave.

See I knew there were protests. I knew this beautiful city was fighting for something incredible to happen for their children’s future. I knew it. And when I left, I didn’t wish for things to have been perfect, I just wished I knew how to connect my fortune with their struggle.

There will be so much unrest. Jobs, family, relationships, pressures. There will be fortune for you and terrible struggle for others. There will be deep regret and wild hope. There will be so much we cannot know until perhaps it feels to late.

But I promise you, if you stop all that overthinking, even just for a moment, there will be magic too.

We were sitting there on the roof and though it is muffled, through the maze of tram ways, streets and buildings of concrete they sing it out. An entire city engulfed with the reminder to pray and praise their God.
Not smog, not opinion, not even thick concrete could stop this group of people from prayer. Even multiple times a day.
I’ve done nothing of the sort in this airport as we wait to kiss beautiful Istanbul goodbye and wave hello to Chisinau. I’m convicted, and so I slow my heart and the beads of sweat and frustration of airport processes disappear like thin air.
And I can’t help but wonder what it might be like; would the Christians of my city sing worship daily to our living God through mazes of streets, opinion and thick concrete.
Goodbye IstanbulImage
Maybe I shouldn’t be frustrated but I just wrote nan entire blog just to see my iPad freeze an the post disappear. Maybe, but I’m way too excited to share today with you.
 
You see, though we started off slow, we’d soon end up in he massive mix and chatter of languages, cultures and hearts as we swam our way through the overcrowded Grand Bazaar. And let me tell you, it is Grand. The smells of fresh tea and spices overwhelmed me as we mazed our way from one store to another. And my heart beat wild while we walked back to our hotel just to jump onto another tour of The Sultan’s Mothers’ Mosque, The Spice Market, and a Bosphorus River boat tour of the palaces and bridges linking the old muslim world with the Christian culture opposite side. And I looked in disbelief as the tour guide talked in four languages about these one to one hundred million dollar homes while the waves crashed like peace against the boat. I’m sure my eyes exploded like fireworks in the night as the pictures and beauty flood and overwhelm me. The thought travelled with me as we travelled back to our neighbourhood for dinner. We savoured the Kabobs, fed the street cats and tried to listen to story while the men hammered nails into metal and the Mosque sang over city speakers their prayers. 
 
And on the long, lost walk home, these small little figure sitting tiny on their knees bellowed loud in their plastic flutes in hope money might drop from higher in their sky into a cardboard box before them.
 
Perhaps they are Gypsy children, a friend said. Perhaps. Perhaps they are simply helping their family survive. Perhaps. Perhaps they need some love and a snuggle or two.. but then perhaps they get plenty each day.
 
Though the noise of the cars, busy feet and glowing neon lights never cease my eyes are filled. It’s all so much beauty and chaos in one little day. And all I can see are large palaces and tiny knees. Like fireworks, they flood me.