The tension between Muslims and Christians and whatever force is in charge right now (it is hard to keep up) has turned violent.
There are now up to 58 Christian churches, orphanages and community centers that have been destroyed, along with Christian businesses.
Catholic Nuns have been paraded through the streets and mistreated.
This is bad news, not just for the Christian but for all.
Whenever mankind seeks to conquer each other - it is always bad news.
I am a follower of JesusChrist.
These are my brother and sisters that are being persecuted.
There are people of other religions that are persecuted for having a different faith than their tormentors.
These are my brother and sisters as well.
This morning as I woke up in America I began my day in freedom.
Freedom to do what was on my list.
Laid Back Jane has a Eastern Shore Leadership retreat at the Delta this morning.
They will be out in all the Alabama humidity , canoeing alongside the state bird: the mosquito and trying to avoid the gators.
Have I mentioned how overjoyed she is about this?
Anyway at the parent orientation we took our place at a table.
Soon the room began to fill up and a small woman in a long flowing outfit and white scarf draped over her hair and swirled around her neck sat next to me.
I smiled. She smiled.
My mind began thinking about world tensions.
I thought "I wonder if she is Muslim?"
I suppose one could say "Why must I state the obvious" but I have met people from all over the world that keep a culture but not a religion. Or keep a religion but not the culture.
I once worked with woman who was Catholic but had an arranged marriage according to her culture. It was so fascinating to hear her story.
So I began wondering about this woman.
Where was she from,?
Did she speak English,?
What is her faith?
and a few superficial thoughts as well
Isn't she hot all the time in that outfit?
I wonder if she likes lattes? (hey it was drizzly outside , I was thinking Starbucks)
and a few other thoughts creeped out as well
If she is Muslim does she hate Christians?
So as I sat there allowing my mind to run a gamut of 20 questions.
I decided if I really wanted to know anything about this woman I should just talk with her.
(INSERT BLONDE MOMENT HERE)
I am not one for loss of words- so I got this.
Me: " There is a really good turn out today"
She: " Yes, it looks like there are many participants"
She has a slight accent, but it isn't a southern, cajun or British. My deciphering skills end there.
As I am playing dialect detective , she speaks again
She: " I hope there are some other children from my sons school that are attending."
Me: " Where does your son go to school?"
** as a side note I am discovering that she must also be highly educated because she is speaking my native language far more beautifully than me.
She: "Bayside Academy"
WHAT?? UM US TOO!!
Me: " We also attend Bayside. My middle daughter is a Junior ."
I am slowing down my speech and using fancier words at this point , I know I know
She: "Oh I am so glad there is someone else here form Bayside. Which child is your daughter?"
The kids are all congregating at another table .
She and I exchange information on our children and point out who they are, talk about our school, ask how many children we have, how long have you lived on the eastern shore and other inquiries.
Lots of good ole hen talk = like any two women
So here's the skinny:
I find she is from India, her parents have past but her husband's parents are still living in India.
She has been in the states for 30 years now.
She has one brother in the mIddle East, one in France and a sister in Oregon.
They only get back to India about every 5 years due to the expense.
The last time they went with the whole family for a wedding and is was lovely.
Her husband is in agriculture, she has 4 children: one pursuing a PHD, one in college two in high school. She has a Masters Degree.
We exchange names and both have to ask the other to repeat it twice so we pronounce it correctly!
She was kind. She was friendly. She was easy to talk to.
She is proud of her children. She is close to her family.
She is married . She values education. She honors her upbringing.
We are really not that different.
We value many of the same things
We both love our family.
I never had any preconceived ideas or suspicions toward her.
I just wondered about her and about the world and how we view, treat and trust each other.
And how in the world can 2 women,
one a world traveler in Indian dress with a covered head possessing a Masters degree
one in Gator shorts and bright orange T shirt with a slightly sassy southern accent and dollar store readers
can sit next to each other in a kind and peaceful conversation when half way around the world humiliation, cruelty and violence reign?
The article I referenced above listed the unacceptable atrocities of mankind but it ended with this bit of information :
"A Muslim woman who once taught at the school spotted Manal and the two other nuns as they walked past her home, attracting a crowd of curious onlookers.
"I remembered her, her name is Saadiyah. She offered to take us in and said she can protect us since her son-in-law was a policeman. We accepted her offer," she said.
This is how 2 different women of life sit together and get closer to unity .
We find our sisters.
We extend our hands.
We accept the offer.
This is how is has been done for me:
Jesus found me
Jesus extended His hand
I accepted it.
This is how I want to and am called to do for others.
This is how I want to and am called to do for others.
I think that maybe nun helping Muslim woman was at the 5 rivers Delta this morning.
I don't know, I never found out her religion. It just didn't seem to matter .