Inside the Kaaba

Muslims face the Kaaba five times a day in prayer, no matter where they are in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people turn towards this immense cube (which is what “Kaaba” means).

Did you know that it isn’t solid? It has a place to worship inside. The Kaaba is a mosque, a holy house. It is said to have been originally built by Adam and Eve, then restored by Abraham and Ishmael, as the very first place to worship the One God, who Muslims call Allah.

The interior is 13 m (43 feet) high, and the sides are about 10.15 m (33.3 ft) by 8.24 m (27 ft). There are no windows but there are lanterns.

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These are screenshots from a 3D animation of the interior.

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This is a top-down map of it.

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These are cutaway illustrations.

Kaaba inside

What is inside the Kaaba

What is inside the Kaaba

The Kaaba used to be opened twice a week for anyone to pray inside. But now it is opened just twice a year, and then for only dignitaries and exclusive guests, who enter to ceremonially clean it. The door is 2.13 m (7 feet) above ground. There is a wooden staircase on wheels that is used to reach the door.

The key is kept by one tribe. Here are pictures of the key.

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This is all very interesting, but I think this is the most interesting part– if you are inside the Kaaba, what direction do you pray? You are in the center of the center of worship.

The 12th century Sufi mystic and friend of the poet Rumi, Shams of Tabriz said – “The Kaaba is in the middle of the world. All faces turn toward it. See! Each is worshipping the soul of each.”

Now try this. Visualize that you are inside the Kaaba every time you pray, no matter where you are, no matter what faith tradition you practice. You are in the epicenter. You are in the eye of the storm. You are in the heart of the Creator. You are in the first holy place ever made by human hands. Hold that feeling in your heart.  You don’t have to face any direction.  Your prayers go directly to God, right where you are.

 

(Pictures and information are from Wikipedia and other online sources. All copyright belongs to the original owner. Used for educational uses only.)

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Prayer bead chain

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This is a prayer bead chain that I made. It isn’t a rosary, but it kind of is. It is a reminder to pray but there are no set prayers for it. I’m open to adding more beads to it in the future, but it is still good the way it is. It would be too heavy to make into a necklace. It is meant to be carried in a pocket so that it is ready to be used as a prayer aid whenever needed.

cross
The cross is a replica of the cross that Pope Francis wears. It is not a crucifix – rather than depicting Christ crucified, it celebrates his life and teaching by depicting him as the good shepherd, one who seeks out the lost and protects them, even willing to lay down his life for them.

heart
The next bead is a heart, as a reminder of God’s love for us, that God loved us enough to come down to earth to experience life among us.

recycled
This bead is made from broken pieces of glass that have been put together and remade into a new bead. It is a reminder that God can make something new out of our brokenness.

This bead is a chevron bead.
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It doesn’t look special until you see the sides.
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The only way you can see it is if you cut the bead and then grind away at the edges. This is a reminder that our true beauty isn’t on the surface, but is what is revealed after we are tested.

copal
This bead is made of copal. It is a reminder of the incense used in churches as “an aroma pleasing to the Lord”. Instead of making animal sacrifices, our prayers and work are what God desires.

millefiori
This millefiori bead has six pointed stars, as a reminder of the faith of Israel that told the world about the One God.

egg
This is a glass bead that I made myself many years ago. Unintentionally, it looks like an egg. It is a reminder that what I did many years ago can still be of value and needed today. It is also a reminder to use whatever talents I have to glorify God.

people
This bead is also a millefiori bead, but it has faces. Because it is made of many different canes of glass fused together, it is a reminder that the Body of Christ is made up of many people, all working together in unison to do God’s will on earth.

Prayers in Japanese (very short story)

He’d always wanted to go to Japan. Many long years he studied the language, the culture. He made sure he wouldn’t be “that American”, the one they wonder about, the one who talks too loudly, too much, and always in English. They were always asking for directions, always crossing over some invisible line, some taboo. Those Americans made him want to say he was from Canada, or England, or anywhere else that he could pretend to be from.

He looked Swedish, with his shock of snow blonde hair and six-foot frame, but he couldn’t a home he’d never been to. He was descended from a long line of Swedes, but he’d gotten the genes and not the language or the accent. Even his last name had been assimilated, Americanized to fit in. He couldn’t pretend for long. Once anyone heard his Midwestern accent or saw his passport, the jig was up.

So he blended in other ways. Learned how to not offend. Learned their habits. He always bowed lower. He always wore the right shoes, even the special bathroom slippers. It was important not to stick out any more that he had to.

He hoped that even if he couldn’t blend in physically, he could blend in culturally. Even if you look Japanese, you’ll stick out if you break the rules. He wanted to lay low as long as possible, hoping they wouldn’t notice him after long. This was the only chance to get to stay.

He wanted to see all the temples, praying at every one in the country. This was why he had to not get noticed. Going to just a few temples wouldn’t do. He had to go to every one. Maybe then he would get an answer to his prayer.

He had never spoken of it to anyone, never written it down. He didn’t want to jinx it, to have a self-fulfilling prayer. Or was it prophecy? He forgot. All he knew for sure is that it would only count if his prayer was answered through divine means. Anything else was sure to not last.

The way to the Father, Jesus reveals the Father, Praying in Jesus’ name, Another Counselor promised

The way to the father.

“Don’t let your heart be troubled. If you believe in God, then also believe in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I would have told you if it were otherwise. I am leaving to prepare a room for you. If I do this, I will return and draw you to myself, so that you may be where I am. You know where I am going, and you know the way.”

His disciple Thomas said, “Lord, we have no idea where you’re going. How can we know how to get there?”

Jesus replied “I am the way as well as the truth and the life. Only those who follow my teachings will come to the Father.”

JN 14:1-6

Jesus reveals the Father.

“To know me is to also know my Father. From this point on you do know him because you’ve seen him.”

His disciple Phillip said, “Lord, show the Father to us and we will be satisfied.”

Jesus asked him, “Don’t you know me, Philip, after all this time we’ve been together? If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. How can you ask me to show you the Father? Don’t you trust that the Father is in me and I am in the Father? I don’t speak for myself. The Father who lives in me does what he wants. Trust that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. If not, believe who I am because of the works.”

JN 14:7-11

Praying in Jesus’ name

“Truly, anyone who believes in me will be able to do the same things I do. In fact, that person will do even greater works because I am returning to the Father. If you ask for anything in my name, I will do it in order for the Father to be glorified through the Son. I will do anything you ask for in my name.”

JN 14:12-14

Another counselor promised

“If you love me, honor my commandments. I will ask, and the Father will send you another Counselor to always be with you. The Counselor is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot see or know the Holy Spirit – this is why they can’t receive it. But you know the Spirit because it is in you and stays with you. I’m not abandoning you – I’m returning to you.”

JN 14:15-18

A wrap and a prayer

I started something different when I wrap my hair. I set an intention or a prayer every time I do it for a particular purpose. For instance I may wrap for people who are suffering from feeling alienated or people who are struggling with addiction. Then as the day goes on, every person who comments on my head wrap or stares at it is someone I need to pray for, someone who has that particular issue that they are struggling with. I pray silently in my heart for them, never calling attention to them.

This transforms the stares and unexpected comments from something weird into an opportunity to pray for others. This transforms wrapping from something I do for myself into something that I do for others.

Prayer in the Garden

Jesus went with his disciples to a part of the Mount of Olives called Gethsemane. He told them “Stay here while I go a little further away to pray. Pray that you will not be tempted.”

Walking a little further away, he took Peter and James and John (the sons of Zebedee) with him. He was overcome with a sense of immense sorrow and anxiety. He told them “My soul is full of sadness to the point of grief. Stay here and remain awake with me.”

He walked about a stone’s throw away from them, fell facedown on the ground, and began to pray that he would not have to undergo the upcoming trial. “Father, everything is possible for you. If it is your will, let this cup pass by me. However, it isn’t what I want, but what you want that is important.”

Returning to where the three disciples were, he found them sleeping. “Why are you asleep? Couldn’t you all stay awake for just one hour? Keep awake and pray so that temptation will not overpower you. The soul is willing, but the body is weak.”

He went away a second time and prayed as before. “Father, if this cup cannot pass by me unless I drink it, let it be so because that is your will.” He returned again to where the three were and again found them sleeping because their eyes were heavy with grief. They didn’t know what to say.

He went away a third time, praying in the same way. An angel appeared before him and gave him strength. He prayed even more fervently because he was in despair, and his sweat fell like drops of blood upon the ground. Returning to his disciples, he said “Are you still sleeping? It is time to get up and go! Look, the hour has come. The Son of Man is about to be handed over to sinners. See? My betrayer is very close.”

MT 26:36-46, MK 14:32-42, LK 22:39-46

How to pray

“Be careful not to do good deeds or give charity publicly so you will be noticed. If you do, you will lose your reward from your Father in heaven. Whenever you give anything to a poor person, don’t call attention to the fact like hypocrites do. They announce it in houses of worship and on the streets to call attention to themselves. Truly, that attention is the only reward they will get! Instead, when you help someone out, do it secretly so not even your left hand knows what your right hand is doing. Your Father who sees everything will reward you.

When you pray, don’t act like the hypocrites do, who make sure that they are noticed by standing in houses of worship and on street corners. That attention is all the reward they will get. Instead when you pray, go off by yourself, shut the door and pray to your Father secretly. Your Father who sees everything will reward you.

Don’t repeat the same prayers over and over again, like other people do. They think their prayers will be answered if they repeat them many times. Your Father in heaven knows what you need before you ask him.”

MT 6:1-8