Wednesday, November 19, 2014
In view of the horrific world events I want to convey my thoughts about a relationship that transcended the discord. It crossed the artificial divide we all too often construct to keep human beings from sharing that part of our nature which seems unique to us. It allows us to connect to other living things on this planet and gives us the ability to love. We do not know for sure that we are the only animal who loves but at least, on the surface, we seem to be the sole evolutionary inheritor of the ability for higher thought and the attachments of love that it can bring.
When violent world events, especially those that centrifugally revolve around religious belief and cultural differences, I think on a relationship I knew between a Pakistani man, his family and an elderly Christian woman who lived the love of her very strong Christian faith. She and I had ad infinitum discussions about faith as she tried, without much success, to persuade me that this life is more than just our birth, all that transpires in between and, finally, death. She said, because she possessed such a strong faith instead of fearing death, which was in sight for her as she approached 90 years of age, she welcomed it because she knew her God would be there to welcome her into a place of eternal peace. I envied her pacific place.
This wonderful woman died yesterday and so I wanted to write a tribute to her amazing life. She was, in the purest sense, simply a good, kind and wonderful woman who never married nor had children. She worried about the loneliness of old age so she made her church and the love it preached the center of her life. We would go on walks at Christmas time when she shared with me the gift of her faith and the love it encompassed and hoped I would see it too. Still, though, I remained steadfast in my agnosticism and, in truth, I remain a skeptic who must wade through the travails of life with no surety of anything more powerful beyond it.
There are times, though, I do think something more powerful than we sends answers that are seemingly miraculous. I do not know this as truth but my friend's circumstances gave me pause for thought. She was forced to move in her 80’s to a less expensive section of town where she found, as was her habit, someone, a young Pakistani Islamic man owner of a convenience store nearby with whom she could exchange ideas especially ones about the faiths they both possessed. They became close friends as each day she went there for coffee and to talk. They became so close she eventually bought a house with him. He moved his family to the US and she legally adopted him. In the end he and his family, too, were there for her helping her as a son would help his aging mother. She shared in the Middle Eastern food he cooked and the holidays he kept. His children thought of her as their grandmother, his wife as her mother-in-law and they weep now for her loss.
He was a Pakistani Muslim man who prayed the required five times a day. She shared in that life as he shared in hers. It was the most beautiful relationship and a love that, indeed, crossed the artificial divide we create keeping those with whom we should have more in common to unite us than we have differences that divide, keep us apart and kill. It does not have to be this way and our friend proved that to me.
And so I say, rest in peace our beautiful friend and if there is a God and a paradise, you are surely in His and its sacred arms.