Wednesday, May 24, 2006
I'm off to Constantinople
Right now I'm in Newark. Room 503. At the Days (Inn?) Hotel, where every customer is enthusiastically welcomed back to the 1970s and all your childhood memories of cigarette vending machines and faux-wood, panelled walls. Orange, yellow, brown--you name it, we've got those three colors. And you want a non-smoking room? No problem. We pretend smoking rooms are non-smoking. "You can too!"
Unaguest and I have holed up for the afternoon. The ladies are somewhere in New York City. A three hour nap, a hot shower, a steak and cheese sandwich and I'm ready for a nice transatlantic, night-time flight.
I woke this morning at 3:41 am, couldn't fall back asleep, so had to wait the dreaded minutes till the alarm did its siren duties at 4:40. Six AM flights are vile. But we got off fine in our fancy Continental metal bird, a three-hour flight to the Garden State. I watched the film United 93 this past Saturday night. I don't recommend terrorist, hijacking, plane-crashing movies before flying. It's just not that helpful.
CNN's telling me that a beautiful array of black, smoky plumes are presently ascending to heaven--out of the Istanbul airport.
"A huge fire quickly engulfed the cargo section of Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport today, destroying most of the building and forcing about 2,000 workers to flee, authorities said."
“Our biggest consolation” said Mujdat Yucel, manager of the Havas cargo and ground services company, "is there is no loss of life."
Well that's nice.
"The fire broke out around 3:30 pm local time in the cargo section of Terminal C, which is used by smaller airlines, mostly from the former Soviet bloc."
The Soviet bloc? Yes indeed. Rocky IV. Welcome back to the 1970s: Take 2.
Radical Islamic, Leftist, and Kurdish militants here we come.
Seven of us are headed out into the great unknown, what I'm calling the "Jesus, Art, Muslims!" parade. As I mentioned to the Hope community, the seven of us are:
The Unaguest, the Sultan
Ellen Johnson, the Floridian Flautist (ph.d out of FSU)
Kate Van Dyke, the Queen of the Book of Kells (professional calligrapher)
Katherine Brimberry, the Master Printer (Flatbed)
Lisa Johnson, the Cowgirl (technically, a Cow Roper)
Beverly Harstad, the Clown (literally)
David Taylor, the Wolf (my evening alter-ego)
Steve Hawthorne, the Prayer Sage, will be joining us here and there throughout our time. Together we'll be visiting galleries, museums, Turkish artists, Turkish believers, the ruins at Ephesus, and then participating in the Roberts College and Tunel International arts festivals. Our travel motto is: Hurry up and wait. Our mission: to enter into the Turks' experience of art so that we can speak the language of the spirit.
Many unpredictables (airports on fire), many unknowns (will this art thing work?), but a heart full of faith and an acute sense that life is too short not to give it a try propels us onward. As my dad says, you only go around once. So live it up. Drink it down. Say no to cartoons.
And lastly, when I was in my mid-twenties I wanted to start a band with a graduate school friend of mine, Mark Klassen, now a missionary man in India. We had this great name. We were going to be called The Cappadocian Fathers. We thought it was way cool and, besides, it was named after Basil the Great, Gregory Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa, the 4th century monastic brothers and primary architects of the 381 AD Council of Constantinople. The only problem was there were only two of us. We could never find a third band member, try as we did. So, two months into the dream, we disbanded.
We still fantasize of reconstituting the band. But as I head out to their ancient homeland, I think fondly of those days in a basement apartment in Vancouver, BC, right off of Jericho beach.
If there's any way possible, I'm climbing a bus and making a pilgrimage to the town of my band members' namesake.