How dramatic to see some 250 Muslim men and 25 Muslim women giving their rapt attention to their Imam for Friday noontime prayers in the basement of our Christian church. It was striking to see the beauty of their rugs, the prone, prayerful position of the participants, the rapt attention to their Arabic prayers (indecipherable to the three non-Muslims in the room) and the inspiring spiritual words delivered by the Imam that we could all appreciate.
I attended because I felt that I (and two others of our church members) could provide succor and support as we had done previously when the initial outbreaks of Islamophobia "broke out" in our land. At that time we provided welcome signs before and coffee after their service. It was gratifying to make friends and have our welcoming attempts so warmly appreciated. This time we felt the need to do more – to help them and show our support in joint worship.
While old friendships were renewed and appreciation expressed for our support, the most amazing aspect of the experience for me was the emotional spiritual impact I received during worship. How striking that it was I who was comforted by an "immigrant from Sudan" reminded me that "our countries system of checks and balances provides protection"! How moving were the words of the Imam in one service as he spoke of the need for understanding that justice and love would prevail. In the second service a different Imam stressed that while we cannot control what others do we can only continue to show patience and understanding within ourselves.
How remarkable that in trying to reach out to others I was helped and finally able to put the events in a broader perspective.
And how confirmed I feel in a view I have been attempting to express ever since I began "Ranting and Raving": that religion has been a major culprit in separating people and causing heinous division and conflict, but that it is only through an fuller understanding of religion that we will achieve world peace and understanding.
I look forward to increased discussion and dialogue in the few years I have left to try to continue the arc of justice and equality for all.