I’m so grateful for people who are open to invite others into their lives. To recognize how much we can learn from one another. To put to rest the notion that we are too different to see eye-to-eye.
Especially in today’s world where in some ways we are becoming increasingly divided.
A little while back I wrote about our layover in Dubai (back HERE). I wrote about how much I was planning to learn more about the Muslim religion after that stint. Sure, I’ve lived in Jerusalem for my study abroad semester and learned some there, but it’s funny how life gets jumbled up with life, and so many details get folded carefully away in the recesses of your memory.
Low and behold, shortly after my post a reader wrote to me to let me know she is originally from here in the desert, she is Muslim, and she wanted to invite me to come with her and her family to their Eid holiday celebration she was coming to town to attend.
I was overcome with how kind that was and quickly accepted her invitation. My neighbor friend ended up coming with me and I’m sure we looked a little out of place heading into the mosque wearing the only long skirts we could wrangle up and scarves I’m sure we probably weren’t wearing quite correctly.
But I loved trying to find a parking spot amidst all those people dressed in such a vast variety of coverings. Hundreds just flocking in to the mosque, ready to share in that special prayer. It almost felt like we were back in Dubai. And it made me think about how beautiful it is that there are so many different ways people connect with God in the world. And also that I want to delve more into other religions too.
My new Muslim blog friend who had been emailing back and forth with me was smiling waiting for us at the entrance with her sweet baby in tow.
She took us in, helped us find a spot for our shoes, led us through the crowd to find a spot we could be together, and let me snuggle her baby while she joined in the prayer.
This Eid holiday was called Eid al-Adha. It commemorates the prophet Abraham’s willingness to obey God and sacrifice his son (who God replaced with a ram). There was a short prayer and then a talk all about that willingness to sacrifice. I was kind of overcome, standing in the hallway with my friend’s fussy-then-sleeping baby, prayer rugs filled with worshipers all around, with how similar it is to my church. And how nice it felt to be there, to be included, to feel the strength of all those people reaching up.
The only picture I got was from afar when we were headed back to our car, but even this just helps me remember:
My friend invited us to her home that afternoon to meet her family and I brought Dave, Claire and Lucy. Dave got whisked off to hang out with the men, and the girls and I sat with a group of women who were open to every question we could throw at them. We learned all about the five pillars of Islam, how marriages work, thoughts about the Quran, how each of those women decided, in different ways, when and how they wanted to start wearing a hijab as adults.
I could go on and on about all we learned, (and I still obviously have so much more to learn!), but that’s not what this post is about. More beautiful to me, was how it felt to have such kind and gracious new friends. I found myself wondering about all the pre-conceived notions we humans hold. The biases we tend to have when we come across things that are different. Things that aren’t in our realm of understanding. It’s so easy to make generalizations and to close ourselves off from learning and growing with each other. But oh! We have so much to learn and gain from one another! How grateful I am for the openness of this new friend to invite me into her circle with such love. And for the added insight she has given me by being willing to reach out.