Peter’s Reverie

The central nave of Hagia Sophia. In this image some calligraphic roundels, the mosaic of the Theotokos holding Christ, and two of the Seraphim are visible. Jorge Láscar from Australia  cc-by-2.0


I’ve recently finished a story, Peter’s Reverie. This is a tale I began to write in a state of optimism, though this was quickly dispelled by events, by a rise of new fundamentalisms in the world. Now we have also seen the rise of the Erdogan regime in Turkey. So my optimism for interfaith understanding is shaken somewhat, but I’m confident that even within Islam there is a foundation for interfaith cooperation. Such a spirit is also expressed in the Quran.

Surely, those who believed in Allah, and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabians, -whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day, and does good deeds – all such people will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no reason for them to fear, nor shall they grieve. Surah 2:62

Still, I persist knowing that there is something far stronger than fundamentalism and nationalism


Peter had been to Ἁγία Σοφία (Ayia Sophia) before. Now he stood gazing at this structure once the greatest of all Byzantine churches, a triumph of Justinian’s Constantinople. An unexpected event interrupts his reverie.

This is from my new collection of short stories, ‘Beyond Borders’. Here is the opening to the story:

Sound of a tram prompted a memory of old rattlers passing his neighbourhood church in Coogee, an image scattered in the reality of place. He stood gazing at Ἁγία Σοφία (Ayia Sophia)[1], the greatest of all Byzantine churches, a triumph of Justinian’s Constantinople.

On a return visit, a pilgrimage in a sense, he was drawn to this place where the spiritual world seemed mystically expressed in tangible form. 

He drifted through the massive, central space, drawn upwards past eight calligraphic roundels, Islamic additions. Flowing into the eastern semi-dome apse, he embraced and venerated the mosaic of the Theotokos[2] holding the young Christ.

Up into the void beneath the dome, he passed four seraphim and recalled Isiah’s vision. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”[3]

Gliding through the void, he floated into the southern gallery. He rested before the Deesis mosaic where the Theotokos, and John the Forerunner, implored Christ Pantocrator to have mercy on the world.

A flat thunking, an unexpected impact shattered his reverie.  He watched as a football sailed from the bonnet of a passing car and across the tram tracks in Soguk Keseme Street. 


Deesis Mosaic, Saint Sophia (Istanbul, Turkey) Photo by Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0





















[1] Ναός της Αγίας του Θεού Σοφίας Σοφίας – Shrine of the Holy Wisdom of God.

[2] Literally: The God-Bearer. In the Western Church, the Virgin Mary or the Mother of God.

[3] Isiah 6:3.

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