Carol Lobell sent these reflections on last Sunday's World Cafe conversation...
I had a very emotional experience last Sunday at K.C. as I greeted our 16 Muslim visitors. Tears came welling up from a deep place inside me as the first group of women in head scarves and long dark clothing entered our Sanctuary. My tears came from the realization that I have never before in my 70 years engaged in a conversation with a Muslim. I felt sadness around this lack and now suddenly I felt enveloped in their warm smiles and friendly laughter.
Perhaps a part of me had been missing until I met these women and talked heart to heart with them. Now my sadness is replaced with joy as I experienced the miracle that somehow God had brought them to us so that we could all learn from one another.
I really connected with those in my small group as we shared the theme of love casting out fear. We identified fear as the root of most hatred, stemming from ignorance of those who are different; customs that seem strange and religions and cultures that are unfamiliar. As the afternoon continued and new small groups were formed, we all seemed eager to bridge this gap of ignorance and mistrust. Some small miracle was happening and I felt blessed to be a part of God's healing presence. Ideas for future meetings to continue building bridges were eagerly discussed.
After reading the many responses to our Muslim-Christian conversatons at Kittamaqundi Community, I most resonated with Rev. Heather Kirk-Davidoff's blog account of this World Cafe experience. She said:
"If a million of us could dine together in groups of 4-7, maybe we'd even prevent the next war. Thats the kind of process I have faith in".
I join Rev. Heather and Ruth Smith, the sponsors of our Sunday afternoon "World Cafe" experience, in their quest for world peace through the gathering together in small groups to dispell ignorance and fear, and to find sisters and brothers of different faiths that are on the same quest.
It is interesting that in the last year I've read some books and watched some videos that I believe prepared me for this Christian-Muslim experience. Perhaps many Americans are eager to learn about people who are different from us, for these books that have all been on the Washington Post Bestseller list and are very intriguing to read. I'd like to highly recommend these books as a way to connect with other cultures.
Here is my list:
2. "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson - Non fiction telling Greg's personal conversion story about going from being a mountain climber to feeling called to build schools in small villages in the Middle East.
3. "Beauty School in Kabul" - A true story of an Hispanic Texan woman beautician who helps build cultural bridges through classes at her beauty school in Kabul.
4. "Arranged" - a video available from Blockbusters - Non-fiction about an Orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim woman of Syrian origin who build a friendship in America.
5. "Kundum" - The story of the current Dali Lama, starting from when he was first "discovered" as a child and going through his exodus into India as a young adult.