Monday, August 31, 2009

Pondering Pages/Three Cups of Tea

A weekly MEME sponsored by Lara at Holy Mothering...

You want to know Me? You want to see My face?
I do not age with time; I do not fit into a space
I transcend the capacity of your eye, so who am I?
It is the question of the moment;
It is the question for all time
I am you, and you are mine

I am the beginning and the end
I am the faith in your believing
I am the color of truth
I am the dreamer of your dreams
I am the falling in your love
I am the words of a prayer
I am the silence in the music
I am the music in the silence

I am your father; I am your mother
I am the man who cannot cry
I am the story in your eyes
I am the orphan of war
I am the leper begging on the corner
I am the black slave in chains
I am the Muslim bride who cannot show her face
I'm the cross you carry again

I'm all you have forgotten
I am all that you have not been
I am in you - all of this in within you
Let the journey begin, Amen
I am in you, Amen

God Is by Danielle Rose

Recently,my friend Melissa came into work with a big smile, eager to share a story of a special experience she had with me. Melissa and her husband Adam are expecting their first baby this December. She had visited a local baby furniture and clothing consignment store and met a very amazing man there. She couldn't wait to tell me about it, knowing that her story would make me happy.

Melissa was the only customer in the store on a late afternoon. The shopkeeper apologized to her and said that he had to turn his attention away from her for a few minutes because it was time for him to pray. He explained that he was Muslim and his religion requires him to stop all activities several times a day to offer prayers to Allah. He placed a rug on the floor and knelt upon it facing East, towards Mecca. Melissa continued to shop during this time, and when the shopkeeper was through offering worship to God, he turned to her and shared a little bit about his faith with her. He showed her his calendar and explained that they were in the holy season of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims fast and offer additional prayers to Allah. He told her that he prayed for her and thanked her for her patience. Melissa said that was the most beautiful experience she ever had while shopping in a store, and thanked the owner for his prayers and for sharing a bit about his faith with her.

I, in turn, thanked Melissa for sharing this touching story with me. I am often impressed by the deep faith of the Muslim community and at how willing they are to publicly witness to their beliefs. I have been told that the word "Islam" means "submit" and to me, this man's example of submission to God through the tenets of his faith requirements is beautiful. I don't know if I would have the courage to have done the same.

While Melissa was sharing this story with me, I was reminded of a book I read last year that helped me to understand the Islamic faith a little better. Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson, was an amazing story of one man's goal to improve the education of the people in Pakistan. Greg Mortenson was a mountain climber trying to climb K-2, the world's tallest mountain. He was injured during his attempt, and was taken in by a Pakistani family. While there, he was immersed in the culture of that family and their country and wanted to show his gratitude for their kindness by helping to build a school for the children.

This was a wonderful book about an amazing man, who worked tirelessly to accomplish an even more fantastic goal than climbing a mountain. It was a great spiritual lift for me to read and reflect upon. It helped to open my eyes to the fact that publicly witnessing to our faith and living our lives in a way that pleases God is universal. We are all God's children, and He lives in all of us, whether Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or Muslim. If we truly believe in and accept our faith, if we have a deep love for our God and our own particular way of knowing Him in our own faith traditions, we won't be able to stop witnessing to it with our whole lives, which includes accepting and loving those whose beliefs are different from our own.

"I know who you are: you are the Holy One of God!" Mark 1:24


  1. Any books about education or educating others is at the top of my list. This was a wonderful post -- inspiring.

    Thanks for sharing,

  2. Beautiful testimony!

    God be the Glory!

  3. Anne,
    I've actually had that book in my hands a few times and put it down for a later time. Thanks for the review of it. The piece you opened this post with is being printed and going in my prayer journal.
    Thanks and God Bless!

  4. Thanks for the review, Anne. I already have this book on my to-read list, so I'll read it eventually ... but that list is pretty long and somehow keeps on growing =)

  5. It is an excellent book. I have also recommended it on my blog. Thanks for continuing to get the word out.

  6. Anne,
    Awesome poem. Beautiful post! My friend Ann just finished this book and really liked it. She is going to pass it on to me. I sometimes get the urge to drop to my knees in large crowds:) I'm going to post about it at some point. We can learn a lot observing other faiths, I wish Catholics could adopt some of these things.

  7. I too have picked up Three Cups of Tea at the library but simply didn't have time for it. Thanks for mentioning it -- I will try to clear room in my reading time for it (after tackling Les Mis, that is).