Thursday, January 1, 2015

Vancouver Turkey Travel Journal - Vancouver Airport - Jan 1, 2015

3 5 am I’m in the Vancouver Airport.  What a lovely building.  Great lay out.  Obviously one of the best designed and thought out airports in the world.  Also aesthetic.  Pacific Coast Aboriginal Art and Modern European American architecture interior design with English, French and Chinese signs.  I’m naturally at the Starbucks.  First coffee of the New Year.  Sausage and Egger breakfast.  I left Laura and Gilbert near eleven arriving home in the truck at midnight.  On Facebook I was cured for being an alcoholic.  16 years of abstinence later.  The last day of the old year though I’ll choose to remember being hugged on the street near Harbour Light by my recovery friend of decades.  Now this morning at the airport I meet another one of the gang, Al,  and he’s been to Istanbul a couple of times. “Meetings are great there,” he shares.  I’ve already checked on line.  “My favourite international ones are in London. Same stories but with the accents they sound like Monty Python.”  I say and we laugh.  I cherish the laughter now.
I’m on pilgrimage to Instanbul.  It’s the New Rome, Constantine, the emperor who embraced Christianity’s Constantinople.  It fell to the Turks in the mid 1400’s. Until then Ava Sophia, the great church of Constantine was Christian.  Then it became Moslem and now is a museum. The Pope prayed there recently.  Around 300 ad the Council of Nicea occurred there. This was the true beginning of ‘orthodoxy’.  The Nicene Creed recited today began then.  Reincarnation, part of the early Christian church was frowned on.  The nature of the Trinity and Jesus were established.  With Constantine the underground movement of followers of Jesus became the State church of the realm.  At Nicea the foundations of this empire were laid.   The Seven Churches of St. John’s vision, Revelations,  are there. Paul and Timothy were there.  I’ve only time for Istanbul and a flight to Capadocea. Christians hid from the Moslem invaders in underground churches there.  This is what draws me.  While I obtained my Masters of Divinity in Ecumenical Christian Spirituality my travels to Jerusalem,  Rome, Scotland, Athens and Moscow have followed the principal divisions of the Christian faith. The Coptic Church in Ethiopia is the remaining division that interests me.  That’s the historical aspect of the trip.
The spiritual aspect is simply that I love to travel to holy places.  I like to sit in shrines where hundreds of thousands, maybe millions have come to pray and worship.  I believe the times space continuum is somehow affected by the collective petition and meditation.  I pray to be closer to God, to know God more fully.  Thy will be done, not my will is what I seek more than anything. This travel is an elaborate ruse because alone anywhere the journey within is wholly available to anyone.  Consciousness is the stuff of creation.  I’m one with God.  I’m a child of God as Jesus taught.  I am trapped in fear and open with love. God indeed is love.  I suppose I could improve my relationship on a beach but the sensuality of sun and sand and especially bikinis might be a distraction.  This trip is more an education and study. I’ve read several books and listened to a half dozen lectures on the history and area.
Some of my patients and some of my friends are Moslem.  A couple of my finest teachers were devout.  They have no more belief that IS and the other Jihadists are representative of Moslem spirituality than I believe the Klu Klux Klan are representative of my Christianity.  Politics and business gather round the light of saints of all religion. It’s at the outer edge that disagreement exist. At the centre of all true religion I believe there is love.  There we appreciate similarities rather than differences.  There and here we join rather than separate.  I’m on a journey that takes me home.  A pilgrimage just takes me past the way stations sooner.  My Hindu friend Ganesh journeyed to several temples last year.  When I visit him I find him praying with beads.  The peace he knows reminds me of the spirituality that Rabbi Twerski describes in his books of recovery.  My Anglican and Catholic friends love to read Richard Rohr’s contemplations.  There’s a zen in hurley gurney. The British Medical Associations Department of Psychiatry now has a division of Spirituality.  The American College of Psychiatry requires students to study spirituality because the spiritual practices are now well known to foster physical and mental health.  Dr. Willie Gutowski has long taught the value of prayer.  I love Dr. James Houstons book on prayer.  Herbert Benson, MD has long demonstrated the health benefits of meditation.  I so enjoyed teaching joining Scotty and his friends when I was so honoured to lecture on Psychiatry and Spirituality.  Now that my book Psychiatry and Addiction is out I’ve turned my attention to the next book, Psychiatry and Spirituality
Aesthetically, well, I confess,  I love art and sculpture that has been given to God.  Attending Bach’s Cantatas at the Chan Center Christmas time with Laura was thoroughly uplifting. I’m forever thankful for Anna introducing me first to the  live performance of Handel’s Messiah at St. John’s Shaughnassey.  I have always loved the religious paintings, sculpture and architecture.  While the incredible collection of impressionist art in Moscow was  a rush, I was most moved by da vinci’s “mother and child’ and ‘the Prodigal Son’ of Rembrandt in the Hermitage.  The prodigal son is certainly a story that resonates for me.  It’s the same for the song, Amazing Grace.  Something in the act of turning oneself around and the recognition of Grace.  Grace.
I’d hoped to go to Egypt this trip but the Canadian embassy closed and Canadian travellers were warned against travel there.  For Turkey, Canadians are only advised to avoid the Syrian border.  I have some trepidation.  I’ve answered that by hiring a guide for some days and staying in a finer hotel with greater security than what I might otherwise have stayed in.
It’s time to go to the boarding area.  I’ll pick up a novel in the Pacific Coast News store though expect I’ll sleep this first leg of the journey.  And a trip to the loo before boarding.  Laura and I laughed that we’ve arrived at an age where we take advantage of available washrooms. My Aunt Sally, a world traveller herself, and assistant to the Canadian Ambassador in Washington during WWII, always said “You never know when you’ll see another washroom.”  Younger I never thought like that but today I do.  Now I must be off.
3 pm  I’m in TorontoPearson Airport.  E Gates.  International departure.  Plane leaves in an hour and a bit. I’m eating a salad. I find food helps sleep and reduces the overall stress of long flight.  Bought an Air Canada breakfast sandwich on flight here. I’ve got the latest Jason Bourne Ascendancy novel written by Lustbuster.  I wouldn’t call it deep. Doesn’t require a lot of concentration.  I was reading more of the Ottoman Empire and Suleyman on my kindle. I’m definitely down a few hours sleep.  I know  I snore and I’ve got sleep apnea so on the plane I was worried I’d disturb everyone. Nodded off and woke with a start when they were bringing round coffee.  My passport picture was taken pre beard so I’m getting a lot of scrutiny,  A fellow sitting next to me had the most impressive English  mustache I’ve ever seen.  Looked like a bull with teeny teeny horns that stuck out past either side of his face. Maybe insectoid would describe it better. Nonetheless, a very distinctive fascial hair display.  I gathered he was trying to stick out whereas I’m hoping to blend in.

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