Morning in Akko


5:10 am. A beautiful tenor voice rings out in the darkness, calling me to wakefulness, if not yet mindfulness. The tune is a familiar Middle Eastern mode; the words are unfamiliar Arabic. A muezzin calls Muslims to prayer. I imagine the muezzin standing on the balcony of a nearby minaret, perhaps the one lit with the brilliant green light.

A hooded crow preaching from his own minaret adds a coda: a single sharp caw. His impeccable timing shows he is familiar with the mosque’s morning routine. He does not mistake any of the muezzin’s pauses for the end of the call.

I remember my morning dream:

I am attending a university class, where I am working as the Teaching Assistant. Though it’s late in the semester, this is the first time I’ve actually come to class. Tim S., a Christian minister with a passion for interfaith learning, is the professor. I feel guilty that I haven’t come to class, but Tim is calm and projects no blame.
I listen as a young man in the class speaks. Clearly, he has been shaped by a right-wing ideology, but he is speaking of his growing comfort with diverse points of view. He looks like a character in the movie American History X, the neo-Nazi gangbanger whose ideology is cracked open by his prison friendship with a black fellow inmate.


The dream expresses, in symbols dear to me, teachings in Brad Hirschfield’s book You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Hirschfield tells the story of his own journey from youthful certainty to mature seeking. He could be the student in my dream.

My own youthful certainty was no more than an ideological commitment to pluralism. (Philosophers: think of William James on indeterminism.) People do things for multiple reasons; problems have multiple solutions; knowledge grows by networking ideas and feelings in every possible direction. My grasp of metaphysical pluralism directed my thinking and feeling; it showed me what to look for.

Today’s dream suggests that I have missed something. The early morning sounds suggest that something deeper is calling. It’s not an end to pluralism, but it’s a deeper version of it. My dream characters roll up their sleeves and dip their hands into the work, in a way I haven’t learned to do yet.

Akko raises the question. It’s a multi-ethnic city, where Jews and Arabs live side by side. Is that enough?

Photos of Akko by Charles Kaplan and Laura Duhan Kaplan
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