wallowing in the lap of a stranger


one of my most favorite things about Muslim culture is how hospitable it is.

while riding a train after picking up new passports, dear little t got so bored. her sister was asleep, and her mom was half asleep. sitting on a train for three hours was not her idea of fun.

across from me sat an elderly Muslim woman. she was visibly tired, probably from being up late at night and then up early in the morning, breaking and beginning the fast is exhausting.

as t whimpered or fussed, she looked up from her dozing and grinned, shook prayer beads, and looked for ways to entertain a restless toddler.

she told me she was a grandmother with either 4 or 14 grandchildren (in my fatigue, i wasn’t quite sure). she reached for t and bounced her on her lap. she let t crawl and swing over her legs. she even let t wrap her sacred prayer beads around her feet.

she was so gracious, so welcoming. i can’t imagine how tired and hungry she must have been, late afternoon during ramadan in 100 degree temperatures is no small thing. but for her, welcoming a child was much more important than her own personal needs.

i would have been lost without her. too sleepy, too hot, too thirsty to be patient with a wiggly worm, she was a gift to me.

t was delighted by her. t giggled and grinned, thrilled to be adored by this woman who loved her instantly.

i hope for a world where we all feel so compelled to love each other with that kind of mercy.


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