Catharsis

9/11 Reflections

Taken in Greenwich Village, New York City in May 2007.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write another 9-11 piece after my last post criticizing the conspiracy theorists standing at the gates, but following the news over the past weekend, I felt a few more words seem justified.

With our stop at Ground Zero, we reached the end of our tour of New York City back in October 2007. The pictures, poems, candles and other memorials for those that died certainly threw a dark curtain over our exciting day of touring this city. Leaving our group, my wife (then-girlfriend) and I decided to take the short subway ride to Greenwich Village.

One of the more famous hangouts for hipsters and bohemians, the Village was a pretty cool spot. Some neat looking shops, trendy restaurants, and funky bars all gave this neighbourhood a charm of its own. However, this isn’t what stuck with me.

Instead, it was a vacant, ugly lot surrounded with a rusty chain-link fence at the corner of 7th and Greenwich avenues.

Covering this fence were hundreds, possibly thousands, of brightly painted tiles, all conveying a message of remembrance and peace. Some had pictures of doves. Some American flags. Some just a silhouette of the World Trade Centre. They were sad and mournful, but not bitter.

I hope they brought some comfort to whoever it was that painted those tiles. I hope those tiles are still hanging there today.

Ultimately, I hope it is their message that endures and not the one that is grabbing too much attention.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Aya Sophia, Istanbul

Aya Sophia, Istanbul

In light of the ugly debate to the south, this seemed appropriate.

Taken at the Aya Sofia museum in Istanbul. First built around 500 AD, this Christian cathedral served as the central basilica of Constantinople. Following the Ottoman conquest in 1453, the new rulers recognized the value and beauty of this place and converted it into a mosque.

Centuries later, in the 1930s, Turkey’s beloved Mustafa Kemal Atatürk declared that the mosque would be secularized and converted into a museum. Christian mosaics (such as Mary and Jesus centred) that had been covered would be revealed alongside golden Islamic medallions honouring Allah and Muhammed. Essentially, the place would become a shrine to the country’s past – both Christian and Muslim, side-by-side.