More Alike

Part of the confirmation class curriculum at our Presbyterian Church is to go an visit other faith communities. As a mentor I am encouraged to join in on these visits. Making time to go seems like it is going to be a chore, when it always turns out to be a joy.

This week the trip was to go to a Mosque. I thought this would be one of the most informative visits so I asked Allison, my Mentee if she would want to go. Even though she usually has tennis on Wednesday she gave it up to drive over to Cary with me. Going to Cary in rush hour is a big commitment which gave us lots of good car time.

Allison asked me what Mosque’s looked like. I told her they could be an Arabic style building or a store front in a strip mall. Turned out the one we were looking for was the store front kind. The sign was just a few letters so at first we we unsure we were at the right place, but then Allison saw a friend from her class go in.

We were warmly greeted by NS, a man from Kazakhstan who emigrated to the US just a year ago. This mosque was made up of Turkish families who formed a faith community in Cary. They opened their doors for our confirmation class tonight and at least twenty of their members, both adults and young people came out to teach us about their faith. They also told us about how much they appreciated America and liked living here and having their children here.

As the man who was giving us the lesson was speaking his young son came running in the room, his face covered with blue sharpie marks, with a mustache and horns. “his brother must have done this,” the leader said. We all got a big laugh out of that. Kids are kids.

As is the case in many faiths the basic tenets are the same, one God, be good, do right. The expression of the faith is the difference. I think our young people were taken aback by the praying five times a day and the fasting for Ramadan. Makes sitting through one hour of church once a week seem minor. After the talk about the basic tenets we has a time to ask questions.

After some thoughtful and interesting discussion they invited us to share some food with them of sweet breads and cookies they had made for us and sweet hot tea. It gave our new Muslim friends a chance to ask us questions. One woman sitting across from me asked how we teach our children the values of our religion. I told her through stories and parables. I am not sure if it was how they do it. It got me thinking about how much I use story telling in everything I do.

We invited our new friends to come visit us at our church some time soon. This was a wonderful experience to remind us that we are all much more alike. It is something that every American could benefit from during these trying times.

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