Each life is like a tapestry made through the handiwork of the Divine. No matter the color, creed, faith or station in life, the Master Creator has woven each life with colors, hues and patterns unique to that individual. Into my own tapestry, I could have never expected a new color, a new pattern, a richness, to the piece that changed not only the appearance but the texture as well. My life will never be the same. The change was so subtle and yet so profound. It was my visit to Turkey, the meeting of new friends and the connection with the human family that brought new colors, new threads and new hues to the tapestry of my life.
It is difficult to explain these things. Not having the skill or being a craftsman of words, I only hope that I can convey in this writing what I experienced. However difficult to explain, it is a deep knowing in my heart, mixed with faith that led up to the new colors and pattern on my tapestry.
It started with, of all things, an unexpected e-mail from a parent of a child in my class. During the hurried lunchtime, while I multitasking, eating, answering e-mails, planning and preparing for the afternoon, I skimmed what was an intriguing e-mail about a interfaith group. What I almost dismissed as a ‘too good to be true’ message needed more investigation. I decided I was curious enough to save the e mail and come back to it later when I had more time.
I was certain that I was interested and wanted to participate in an interfaith group but a trip to Turkey? I questioned whether this could be a legitimate offer. I found the answer to this as I investigated more about this group, had several conversations with the parent who referred me for the trip, and finally met the director of the Rumi Forum. All the things I was learning about this country halfway around the world were so foreign, so different. After meeting the director, as well as my traveling companions for the trip, it was clear that my heart was recognizing what would become rich, significant threads on the tapestry. Our tapestries, our lives, have a certain genre, a certain tone that defines us. Little did I know that this trip would define, solidify and enrich not only the person I am but who I am in relation to Creation, the Creator, to mankind and most profoundly to my faith. How could this be when our traditions of faith, Christian and Muslim are so different?
This trip helped me to see that we are more similar that different. I began to draw all kinds of parallels between these two faiths and indeed any faith system. The amazing thing was that despite all the differences – our faith differences, where and how we lived, our language and even our physical appearance – I am blonde and blue eyed with an abundance of freckles, Turks are dark skinned, dark haired, I kept finding more similarities between us.
For years my vocation of teaching young children in a faith setting included phrases like: Jesus loves all people. God created all of us. Our Jewish brothers and sisters worship in a synagogue. Our Baptist brothers and sisters worship in their church. Catholics worship with the Holy Mass. I don’t think I ever mentioned our Muslim brothers and sisters but collectively referred to all people as God’s creation and children. On the trip to Turkey, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit many mosques and meet many Turks. I was impressed by their openness and hospitality which their country is known for. It was at dinner one evening that I had the experience of not only meeting a Turkish family but experiencing in a most profound way, meeting a sister. Just as in the story of the woman merely touching the hem of Jesus’ garment and being changed forever, meeting this gentle Turkish woman brought into reality the phrase I had repeated. We are all brothers and sisters because we belong to the family of God. My heart recognized immediately and most profoundly that this was a sister, my sister, even though I had never met her before. Truly, she was part of my family. Like a family reunion, I finally had the chance to meet and embrace this long lost relative that I had talked about so many times. I really can’t explain it any more than my heart just knew. My heart just knew that this was my sister. Through this, my belief that we are all connected to each other in God’s family was solidified in the reality of the meeting. There was a knowing in my heart.
I don’t imagine that I will ever have the pleasure of seeing my sister again and sharing her company. It’s interesting to note that we could not have a conversation with out an interpreter but as we held each other’s faces in our hands we communicated that you are my family, I am so pleased to finally meet you, you are my sister and I love you. As we parted with an embrace I whispered I will never forget you. I will carry you home in my heart and share the story of meeting you with others.
And now, whenever the opportunity comes up, I can’t wait to share with others the rich colors on the tapestry of my life and point out the rich colors and patterns that were woven in after a trip to Turkey and meeting my family and most especially my beloved sister.
Thank you, to all those involved in the Rumi Forum who made this trip possible. This was a life changing experience. Blessings to all. Your sister in the family of God, Linda