KARS, Turkey—I arrived in Kars this afternoon and checked in to my hotel room. This was my fourth day in Turkey and I had already seen and heard a lifetime’s worth of outrageous things (and, to be fair, I also had many great moments). But nothing had shaken me—yet.
I looked at Kars through my hotel window. The entire city was looking back at me. A bare tree nearby with several crows perched on it caught my attention.
And there and then, I broke down in tears. A bare tree and a few crows had done what no one and nothing else had been able to do over the past few days.
My first stop after leaving the hotel was the 10th-century Armenian Church, Sourp Arakelots (St. Apostles Church) in the Kale Ici neighborhood. The church was turned into a mosque, now called the Kumbet Mosque.
I removed my shoes at the entrance (as required when entering mosques) and went in. A local was praying. After an initial hesitation, I silently said my Hayr Mer (the Lord’s Prayer).
It felt like I had never prayed before.