I am at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, facing the entrance that opens up to the Stone of Unction. I am standing in the small courtyard just outside that front entrance when I hear singing, a chant of sorts.
I walk to a small door at the right of the courtyard. This is the entrance to the Coptic Church, and the service of the Egyptian Christians draws me to witness.
The Coptic Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel is filled with a beautiful and religious sound; one I would roughly compare to the cross between a Muslim adhan and Gregorian chant. Though I don’t know the language being sung, I almost feel it a stream of consciousness. It may be.
I get caught up in the stream and close my eyes.
When I open them, I notice a man, a Coptic monk perhaps, outside the gated sanctuary. His face is in an ecstasy as he chants along, holding on to the vertical bars of the fencing. He is in an area that seems to be his area of service, a plate for coins sits on a small table.
I do not want to disturb him in his engagement to the worship. His face is so blissful. The sound is enchanting.
Only later, having returned to the States, and editing my photos from Jerusalem do I notice that my photo of that Coptic servant reveals he wears a hearing aide. I am moved in this discovery. I consider how fragile our lives and our senses are. I think of the beauty of this man’s countenance as he sang: the peace on his face. I consider how our participation in worship of the Holy One overcomes our broken parts, our failings or our handicaps – that when we are in that place of worship, those things cease to matter. When we are around others, when our love goes outward, our personal worries cease to be concerns.
I have been told that love and hatred can’t co-exist: I believe when love is an action, when it is in action, that this is true. In the purity of this, there is a healing in our spirit.