I’m pretty good at waiting.  I do it a lot.  Like right now.  My daughter is at her last dance rehearsal so I’m sitting in a Panera.  Waiting.

The trick to waiting is how to pass the time.  Sometimes, I run little errands.  Other times I’ll tackle a knitting project or a book I’d like to finish up.

Today, in Panera, I’m sitting near a group of three older gentlmen.  They’re discussing religion.  As I sat down, they were verbally smacking around Presbyterians.  All three gentlemen, their thick bibles in front of them, agreed that the doctrine of the Presbyterians was not biblical.  This conclusion led them to slap a couple of other sects around then they sagely agreed that all denominations led us to ‘gifts’.  I’m not sure what ‘gifts’ they’re referring to.  I wouldn’t mind a gift headed my way.  That would be awesome.  

A part of me wants to join their conversation.  Not because I want to ridicule their beliefs or mock their certainty that a person like me will burn in hell, but because I want to understand why they believe what they believe.  Religion is fascinating to me.  I suppose that’s why I attended a Catholic university.  (Either that or because it was the only close university with my chosen major.). My favorite classes in college were religion.  Religious study was required.  It wasn’t an indoctrination into the Catholic Church, either.  We looked at faith critically, seeking to understand. One of the classes we attended required us to attend several different types of worship services.  The most touching was the visit to a local mosque.

The Muslim community was pretty strapped for cash but had managed to acquire an old house to hold daily services.  A group of us attended with our professor.  The professor was very respectful and demanded that we be as well.  Women in the class wore scarves and sat on the women’s side.  Men on their side.  We participated as fully as possible.  At the end of the service, the mosque’s leader presented our professor with a leather bound copy of the Q’aran.  Our professor was humble in her acceptance of this gift and she tearfully thanked the giver.

I wonder what’s become of that mosque, of the community of people that showed us grace, courage and faith.  I hope they’re safe and happy and have led lives of peace and purpose.  That’s all any of us can hope to do.

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