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Faith in Transit: Musings on Spirituality from a Snowy Oslo-bound Train

A Gazan man praying on a moving train, with an Oslo landscape blurred in the window.
Kaia Thonul, Monday, October 16, 2023, 07:43

I sit on the train to Oslo, fingers poised over the cold screen of my laptop. Another journey, another opportunity to clear the fog of thoughts through writing. Outside, the temperature dips to 3°C. The falling snow seems a mirror of my own frosty inner landscape, reflecting back at me my own melancholy. I nestle deeper into my coat, earphones isolating me from the scattered murmurs of the sleepy commuters.

Today, I am contemplating something bigger, something beyond our daily routines and individual sorrows - spirituality and religion. It's a poignant topic echoing in our mind’s quiet chambers, yet somehow, we turn the volume down. We drown it in the buzz of everyday life, in our struggle for ambition or survival, or both.

Church bells toll in the distance as the train glides past another sleepy town. Its echo nudges me back to the topic at hand; the power of faith. Why do people cling so fiercely to concepts intangible? What compels them to surrender control to deities unseen? Is it fear? Is it love? Or is it desperation? Our human essence, as volatile as it is, seeks solace in the divine. It’s a beacon of light in the labyrinth of existence.

As I ponder over these questions, my thoughts meander towards Ashraf al-Najar, a doting father and diligent engineer, whose story I happened upon this morning on a Norwegian news site, VG. Stranded in Gaza since February due to a border lockdown, he is living a nightmare far removed from the safety and predictability of his job and life in Norway. From the boundaries of Gaza, he is reduced to a mere observer of his daughter's life in Oslo, held captive by circumstances beyond his control.

Al-Najar's predicament resonates with the essence of spirituality to me. It's the desperate call for some divine intervention, for the universe to rearrange itself and liberate him from his current circumstance. It's the fervent prayer of a father separated from his child, yearning for the warmth of her hug, rather than the coldness of satellite connectivity. His story reinforces the belief that sometimes, faith becomes not just a spiritual choice, but an emotional refuge.

Switching off my screen for a moment, I gaze into the gloomy landscape outside. The white of the diminishing snow seems blanched of life. The barren trees stand stark against the grey sky, its branches spread out as if in a silent plea for spring's warmth. Despite the outward gloom, faith and spirituality infuse warmth into this seemingly cold reality.

My musings are cut short by the dying battery symbol on my laptop. Sighing, I pull out my faithful powerbank, weighing the sleek gadget with an inexplicable fondness. It's my saviour in these long commutes, empowering me to capture passing thoughts and fleeting inspirations, to transform cold, hard facts into living tales as real, as palpable as the chill outside.

Back to al-Najar's story - it is a testament to resilience, powered by the enduring faith of a father. His relentless struggle against the toughest of circumstances underlines the vital role of faith in our lives. And in our darkest moments, just as a simple device like powerbank replenishes our phones and laptops, spirituality recharges our souls. Despite being wrapped in a shroud of melancholy, this revelation kindles a small flame of hope within me.

This whole train ride, my thoughts, my emotions, al-Najar’s predicament, they all connect, reminding me both of our frailty and our resilient spirit. And just like this journey, fraught with bitter cold and dreading uncertainties, the exploration of spirituality within us draws a map leading to inner strength, resilience, and surprisingly, a semblance of peace.

The train halts at Oslo, tearing me away from my musings. As I step out, the biting wind snaps at my face, but within me a warm current surges - a strange camaraderie with a stranger, a robust faith in the power of faith, and a renewed resolve to explore this fascinating ocean that is spirituality. Despite the depression gripping me, the frost thawing from the trees convinces me that spring will indeed come, and with it, a brighter disposition of mine.

Tags: journey spirituality faith personal reflection

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