OK, OK. So I haven’t been posting all that much on here even though I have had (limited) internet now for about 5 days. One reason for that is because I was trying to catch up over at that other place I write. Another part of the reason for that is because I am starting to come down to the monotony and drudgery of language and grammar learning. You don’t really want to know too much about that do you?
For any of you that answered yes, I will cure you quick: the Turkish language likes to throw all their adjectives, qualifiers, pronouns, etc on to the back end of their words. For example know is biliyor, I Know is biliyorum, you know is biliyorsunuz. Do you know is biliyormusunuz, and so on and so forth. Below is my favorite example that I have come across so far:
Our cars: arabalarımız
In our cars: arabalarımızda
He who is in our cars: arabalarımızdaki
Those who are in our cars: arabalarımızdakiler
From those who are in our cars: arabalarımızdakilerden
Cured yet? Anyways, on the home front, I’ve managed to get electric and water up and running. I bypassed the loopholes around normal internet for now by paying 40 TL per 10g. That means, I can check up on stuff but I won’t be doing any skype, facetime, major downloads, or streaming of any music or movies just yet. My date for my residence Visa is on June 2nd so mark that on your calendars as a day to talk to Dad about. Once I have that in hand getting real internet, gas (no more cold showers!) and maybe even cable will be much easier.
That said, what has really been on my mind to write about was a little bit about what Dad shared with me over the next couple days regarding that trip turned job invitation I had back at the rug store. In my last post I mentioned that I was given a brief history/explanation of the various types of handwoven rugs, but I did not really share much of the detail of what it was he taught.
In all there were five different types of rugs we looked at and for two of those types, he demonstrated the story those types tell with the examples he rolled out for me. One of those was a relatively modern (about 80 years old, but looked like new) of an original rug that one family/clan has been creating for roughly nine hundred years.
Around 1100 AD the Byzantine city of Myra fell into the hands of the Seljuk Turks. Up to that point, and still to this day, Myra was most famous for being the home of St Nikolaos. More commonly he is known today as jolly old St Nick or Santa Claus. Even though the legend and man as we know it owes more to commercialism than history, even in the Seljuk’s time the nearly 800 year old legend of the man’s love, kindness and generosity were already huge.
Now at this time the Seljuks were still in the process of becoming a Muslim people so many of these Turks still held to their Shaman beliefs and I am sure more than a few were proselytes to both Judaism and Christianity. Either way, inspired by the story she learned of St Nikolaos, a Seljuk woman from Myra spent eight to ten months, six to eight hours a day, six days a week, crafting a single rug. In that rug she took symbols of all four beliefs and interweaved them with symbols for love and unity. She spent a good portion of her year creating the original request, “Can’t we all just get along?” Beyond that, her message touched enough people that her descendents have been creating rugs of that same design from that day to this. She has left a legacy that endures long beyond her lifetime.
The other story rug I was shown was an older rug (about 140 years, again it was in amazing condition) but carried a newer message. Before going into the message itself, I would want to preface that the creator’s culture – Islam a hundred forty years ago – was a much more formal, male dominated, and conservative culture than what we east or west have today. Children cannot bring up serious topics for discussion. Boys, being more free to speak, would do their best to hint around an issue until a parent caught on and broached it. Girls… they would create a rug. This rug had a message one poor girl a hundred forty years ago cared deeply about but was afraid to discuss with her parents. Along the outside edge of this rug (which, again, would have taken 8-10 months to make) the girl had woven symbols telling her parents, “I have reached my womanhood. I am ready to bear children now and it is time for me to branch out and start a family of my own.” The center of this rug, the heart of the message which also would be hidden when she kneeled on it to present it to her father, was a cross. Along the outside edges of this cross were tulips representing Islam. She, as a Muslim, wanted permission to marry a Christian man. That. Just. Doesn’t. Happen.
Both of these rugs were handcrafted and woven together over a period of nine months. We are like that rug. The King David wrote of God:
For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.
Long before his time, the patriarch Job said:
You clothed me with skin and flesh, and wove me together with bones and tendons. You gave me life and faithful love, and Your care has guarded my life.
Added to this are the words of the prophet İşaya:
This is the word of the LORD your Maker who formed you from the womb, He will help you. Do not fear… This is what the LORD, your Redeemer who formed you from the womb, says: I am the LORD, who made everything, who stretched out the heavens by Myself, who alone spread out the earth.
Like a rug that takes nine months of love and labor to come into being, so has our God knitted us together from the moment of conception. Those rugs were made to last. Barring catastrophe or abuse, they are expected to last at least eighty to a hundred years. Barring abuse or catastrophe, most of us should at least make it on to the low end of that spectrum.
But most importantly, these rugs were made to tell a story. Their creator wove them together because she had something deep and important in her heart that she just had to share with her world. In the same way we also have been created to tell a story.
God said to the prophet Yeremya:
I chose you before I formed you in the womb. I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a [messenger] to the nations.
The same is true of each and every one of us. We have… no we are a message of the love of God to the world around us. So let’s go get that story out there.