Chasing wishes on a cobblestone path

Photos by Ayşegül Bektaş Frame

Photos by Ayşegül Bektaş Frame

Every year on April 23, thousands of Turks board ferries and make their way to the largest island off the coast of Istanbul.

Many of them purchase a spool of colorful thread from vendors lining the cobblestone path to the top of a high peak, and they unravel the spool as they walk.

1 - IMG_1333 1 - IMG_1364

Interestingly, in a country that is 98% Muslim, those making the pilgrimage each year are walking towards a Christian monastery, named after St. George, that sits at the top of the mountain. When they get there, they hang charms in the trees of the churchyard.

They also light candles. They wish. They hope. They pray.

Inside the church,

Continue Reading »

Video: the Islamic Call to Prayer

Photo: The Blue Mosque, Istanbul.

Photo: The Blue Mosque, Istanbul.

Five times every day in the Middle East, the call to prayer rings out loudly from mosques all over the land. Loud speakers, attached to the mosques’ towers (called minarets), allow entire neighborhoods to hear the müezzin calling out the prayer from inside.

Often, you’ll hear a chorus of prayers from different mosques.

The prayer is in Arabic; this short video, shot while my wife and I were walking in a nearby park one evening last week, captures a short segment of it.

When the call to prayer is heard, many people

Continue Reading »

Are you wasting your life on something that doesn’t work?



A couple of years ago, I interviewed a number of leaders from organizations in Cambodia that worked with sex workers, and women and children who had been sexually abused.

One interviewee–a highly trained westerner–had started an organization that was well-respected in the community.

Before she started her organization, she had worked for another organization that also had sought to help sex workers.

During that time, she found that, despite all that she and others did to support the young women they were serving, their efforts were not helping in a way she believed was satisfactory.

“Every single girl went back to the sex industry,” she told me.

Continue Reading »

“…we are all shareholders in a system of slavery found in numerous global supply chains. We must ask ourselves how much longer we will look the other way while millions toil in slave-like conditions to provide us with the goods and services we consume.”

–Siddarth Kara

Christianity: An Introduction (2011)

A great introduction to the history of Christianity. Easy to read and packed with historical details from the past 2000 years. I learned a great deal about the topic and enjoyed reading this book.  I had wanted a refresher in church history and feel quite enlightened about what I learned.  I thought it was interesting how, in the conclusion, the author turned a corner and wrote in a compelling way about Christian behavior in relation to the poor, arguing (I sensed) for Christians to live in a way faithful to their beliefs and the teachings of Jesus.  In this way, the book was not only educationally enlightening, but also convicting.

“But I would like to suggest that all of us, we and you alike, commit ourselves to retaining that split-screen world in which we hold our plans–our personal plans, our dreams, our abundant energies–always and in juxtaposition with the images that disturb us and call us to everyday responsibility.”

–Diana Eck

Setting goals with an eraser


The other day I walked around our new neighborhood in Istanbul to buy a pencil. I needed a pencil for my calendar, as I’ve found that using an old-fashioned calendar–the kind with a metal spiral, and a large picture that your turn over each month–helps me plan and schedule my daily tasks. It helps me meet daily goals. I use a pencil to write my goal for each day; I use a pen at the end of the day to check it off.

But what I’ve found myself doing

Continue Reading »