(When I lived in a city called Gulja, I remember hearing mothers calling their children to come home. They would sing their names out the doorways or open windows. The children would start making their way home when they heard their names.)
If only I could hear her voice again. She called me from the window, singing my name down the street. The sun had set. I knew it was time to come home and eat the delicious meal she prepared every night for us. I would skip home throwing open the door to find her in her apron serving the food to my father and brother. She would nudge me to the sink to wash my hands. My father would tussle my hair, my brother would give me a playful punch. We would eat our meal together, savoring the flavors and the love we had for each other.
In my dreams I hear her calling, singing my name down the street. I can never find my way home. There is always an ocean to cross or a gate I can’t get through or soldiers blocking my way.
I have been hearing this phrase more and more lately. It’s a handy little phrase. I’ve used it myself many times when I am struggling to understood an issue or a situation. It is true that life is complicated, human beings are complicated, but I feel like this phrase can be used now as an excuse, a way of not getting involved. It is a way of distancing oneself from a messy perhaps dangerous situation. There are numerous situations going on around the world that are both messy and dangerous.
I wonder in a revised version of the Good Samaritan story if one of the religious leaders who crossed the street away from the poor guy beaten and left for dead may have mumbled to himself as he hurried away – “It’s complicated…maybe he deserved what he got or maybe he has a contagious disease, or worse if I stop and help maybe someone will get me next!”
Last night I attended a vigil, calling for an end of the inhumane detention of immigrants in our country. I was heartened to see the church where the vigil was hosted packed out. More and more people are outraged at the news that is coming out and wanting to get involved or at least learn about what is happening. It was helpful to hear from women who themselves endured the indignity of being locked up and treated as a criminal. (No it is not illegal to seek asylum.) Both women mentioned how terrible it was to witness the way children were treated. One saw the the agents tearing children away from their parents.
There are numerous things we can do to help. We can raise our voices for the voiceless. We can contact our representatives both federally and locally. We can volunteer, we can donate, we can educate ourselves and help others understand. We each can do something.
Let faith have wings that lift us to pray
Let hope have eyes that look for solutions
Let love have feet that move us to action
May we take a risk to love our neighbors who are in great need rather than turn our backs on them because “it’s complicated”.
I do not know what the answers are to good immigration reform. I need to learn. I do know inhumane treatment of immigrants is not one them. Another phrase I am hearing that I like much better is “This is not a political issue it is a moral issue.”
We are in the midst of Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims. It is the 9th month in the Muslim Lunar calendar. This is when all able-bodied Muslims will fast from food, drink and other physical needs from sunrise to sunset. It is a time of prayer and purification to become closer to God. The Arabic word for God is Allah. Ramadan marks when the first chapters of the Quran were given to the Prophet Muhammad.
Ramadan is the 4th of 5 Pillars of Islam. These Pillars define what it means to be a Muslim. Here is a list of the 5 Pillars:
Shahada: faith in the Islam religion,
Salat: pray five times per day facing the direction of Mecca,
Zakat: give support to the needy,
Sawm: fast during Ramadan, and
Hajj: make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during one’s lifetime.
The season of Ramadan is a season of joy and celebration. It is also a season of generosity and kindness. Although the fasting can be difficult the month is punctuated with celebratory meals after the sun goes down. These are called iftars. They are often celebrated together with families and friends, as well as community events. This is a great opportunity to join an iftar and meet your neighbors. My husband and I have several days marked on our calendars to join an iftar. Some of these are interfaith events, hosted by a community of Muslims. Some churches are also getting involved and hosting iftars for their Muslim friends and neighbors. This can be a time to build friendships and understanding. Why not check with your local mosque and see if there are any such gatherings that you could join? Or ask a Muslim friend, co-worker or neighbor if you could join them for an iftar? Be prepared for some delicious food and warm hospitality. You may be eating and staying up later than what is normal for you, but the benefits of making or strengthening existing friendships is worth being a little sleepy the next day.
I have heard stories from some of my immigrant friends who grew up in the middle east how Christian, Muslim, and Jewish neighbors would make food for each other during their holidays. This would be a custom worth reviving in our multi-faith and diverse communities. Maybe you will be inspired to host an iftar for your friends and neighbors. Just make sure you use halal meat or make a vegetarian meal. Costco carries halal meat as well as neighborhood halal stores. I have 2 in my neighborhood. This is one way to build love and peace in our world so desperately needing it. One step at a time, right where we live.