Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Naomi Shihab Nye, American poet and writer, was born of a Palestinian Muslim father and an American Christian mother. This excerpt is from an essay on their stay/visits to Jerusalem, where her father's family still lives in a village:

"My father and I hike to the tomb of Sheikh Omar, high on a hill. We must overstep the lentil fields to get there. My father stoops to pluck a handful of fresh green lentils, saying, "Once you eat them raw, you never forget the taste." Sometimes I feel this way about my whole life. Who was Omar, when did he live? My father says he was a disciple of Mohammed. He lived a long time ago. The villagers know this is his tomb, so they have built a rugged mound of a mosque to honour him.

Inside, faded prayer rugs cover the floors. A ring of half-burnt candles stands in one corner. We take off our shoes and kneel. I don't really know how to pray like a Muslim, but I know there is something very affecting about people putting down their shovels and brooms five times a day to do this. I like how life continues in the rooms where someone is praying. No one stops talking or stares; it is part of life, the denominator. Everything else is a dancing away."

Page 57, 'One Village', from 'Never in a Hurry, Essays on People and Places', by Naomi Shihab Nye

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