Words Alive! Writing Contest Winner: Nebiyat Esubalew (Personal Essay)

“Kairotic Spaces”

Soft candlelit silhouettes of people dressed in all broken white traditional attires swarm the grounds of the vast Saint Mary church near my home every Sunday. Myriads of churchgoers stand anticipatingly still holding luminous homemade candles made from beeswax with their right hands and Bibles with their left, jointly gazing at the starry night sky longingly. The deacons’ harmonious vocals seem to linger on for a while in a pin drop moment as they halt to take deep breaths in between the Ge’ez verses. I throw a quick glance at those surrounding me to see if they are as dumbfounded as I am. I keep telling myself ‘If this doesn’t feel right, I don’t know what does’. Wind chimes and aromatic incense fill the atmosphere every now and then as a cold gust of wind blows our way. Tourists frantically hold their cameras above the crowd in what seems like an attempt to immortalize a fleeting moment. It feels ethereal. Divine liturgies of the Orthodox church have held a significant part of my life growing up. Priests who calmly impart from the hundreds of books they have memorized by heart have shown me the mind-bending capacities of the human brain. Parishioners who stand until 3 a.m. in the morning for five hours straight with a smile on their faces have taught me a thing or two about resilience. Small children at church who have talked me into buying my eleventh worship leaflets have inspired in me the purest form of kindness. I attended Ye’Kolo Timirt as a kid, a traditional Orthodox church teaching, which first introduced me to the worship ceremony I so loved. There, I met priests who answered my questions that evolved from “What is Jesus’ eye color?” to “What ties the anthropic principle to the fine-tuning of our universe?” adequately. I met visually impaired nuns who gave their whole lives to prayers and voluntary work. Masses have enabled me to keep reassessing and challenging the value I give to all things tangible and presented me with a true understanding of the outside world at a tender age. They will continue to mold the life I want for myself while chasing my idea of the American dream. 


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *