Long ago

I learned about praying
that Fast day at the Hazíratu’l-Quds
when a young Persian fellow BOOMED OUT
(scaring me, frankly)
a beautiful, long chant in a sweet melodious voice
full of heart and longing and humility.
It was, he said later,
a prayer that he had memorized as a child
extolling administrative centers
and he had waited all his life
to be in One to finally say it.

Every prayer since then,
every one—
heartfelt, tired, distracted, strained,
remembered, read or forgot;
offering, begging, failing, hoping,
hurried, kissed, forgiven or not;
healthy, sick, family, friend,
steadfast (but usually not);
happy, serene, content, forlorn,
begging, crying, dying—
I’m there, at that table,
waiting for that boom again.

This incident took place in March, 1982 at the Headquarters of the administrative order of the Bahá’í  Faith in Canada.

When I say that that young man’s voice boomed out, scaring me, believe me, I’m not joking. But bigger than this surprise was the beauty of his chant. Persian or Arabic chanting done from the heart and done well by someone who has a beautiful voice and has been trained for it, is one of life’s great pleasures.

Two points: a “Hazíratu’l-Quds” (hoz-er-attal-couds) is the designation given to a building that acts as a center of Bahá’í administration. Also, the Bahá’í Fast is a 19 day period which occurs between the dates of March 2nd and March 21st, ending on the spring equinox; during this period adults are expected to abstain from eating and drinking from sunup ’til sundown.

Thank you for reading Long ago. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012  by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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