In the spring of 2012, when I first lived in Amman, I started a series on my blog called “Peeling Oranges.” It was a place where I hoped to publish short vignettes or poem-like reflections on moments throughout my days where I experience “Divine-human mingling,” as spiritual writer Fr. Anthony Oelrich calls it. Now, as I begin my nine-month experience living again in the country which bears my name, I plan to continue this series. The following is my first entry in this new phase of “Peeling Oranges.” I’ve decided that this short piece—instead of a Q&A piece explaining why I’m here and what I’m doing—is more appropriate for my first blog post back in Jordan. I hope starting from a place of prayer can not only set the tone for my blog this time around, but also help my readers understand the way in which I’m trying to view my experience here.
You can access previous posts in the series by searching “peeling oranges” or by reading the initial entry, which explains the series’ title.
August 29, 2013
I sit on the balcony of my new, second-story apartment, swirling pita bread in a slimy, gritty mixture of olive oil and za’atar. It’s my favorite time of day here, right before maghrib, and my neighborhood in Jabal al-Hussein echoes with the shrieks and laughs of children. In the pink night of evening, boys scuffle in the street playing soccer, an old man in a gray robe shuffles down the street with his cane, and women in long dresses walk home with groceries.
Just below my flat, a young mother walks slowly, her fingers squeezed tight around the hand of her young daughter, who stumbles along in a purple dress, learning to walk. Back and forth they go in front of my building, which I soon discover I share with them. I shout down a quick introduction to my new neighbors, and little Amira smiles up at me from Zainab’s arms. Continuing their stroll, Zeyneb whispers and repeats new words like “sky” and “building” as Amira points to them.
After days of worry, exhaustion, and doubt that Amman could ever again feel like home, this fleeting moment—one I didn’t expect—brought me calm and peace. It made me remember two passages from my prayer book that I had read shortly before:
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient.” James 5: 7-9
“At an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Antiphon)
There, at my favorite time of day, was my Friend. Not only sitting next to me on the empty balcony, but laughing in the street and pointing a chubby finger toward the heavens.