Posts Tagged With: hospitality

Ramadan, The Perfect Time to Meet Your Muslim Neighbors

We are in the midst of Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims. It is the 9th month in the Muslim Lunar calendar. This is when all able-bodied Muslims will fast from food, drink and other physical needs from sunrise to sunset. It is a time of prayer and purification to become closer to God. The Arabic word for God is Allah. Ramadan marks when the first chapters of the Quran were given to the Prophet Muhammad.

Ramadan is the 4th of 5 Pillars of Islam.  These Pillars define what it means to be a Muslim. Here is a list of the 5 Pillars:

  1. Shahada: faith in the Islam religion,
  2. Salat: pray five times per day facing the direction of Mecca,
  3. Zakat: give support to the needy,
  4. Sawm: fast during Ramadan, and
  5. Hajj: make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during one’s lifetime.

The season of Ramadan is a season of joy and celebration.  It is also a season of generosity and kindness. Although the fasting can be difficult the month is punctuated with celebratory meals after the sun goes down. These are called iftars. They are often celebrated together with families and friends, as well as community events. This is a great opportunity to join an iftar and meet your neighbors.  My husband and I have several days marked on our calendars to join an iftar. Some of these are interfaith events, hosted by a community of Muslims. Some churches are also getting involved and hosting iftars for their Muslim friends and neighbors. This can be a time to build friendships and understanding. Why not check with your local mosque and see if there are any such gatherings that you could join?  Or ask a Muslim friend, co-worker or neighbor if you could join them for an iftar? Be prepared for some delicious food and warm hospitality. You may be eating and staying up later than what is normal for you, but the benefits of making or strengthening existing friendships is worth being a little sleepy the next day.

I have heard stories from some of my immigrant friends who grew up in the middle east how Christian, Muslim, and Jewish neighbors would make food for each other during their holidays. This would be a custom worth reviving in our multi-faith and diverse communities.  Maybe you will be inspired to host an iftar for your friends and neighbors. Just make sure you use halal meat or make a vegetarian meal. Costco carries halal meat as well as neighborhood halal stores. I have 2 in my neighborhood. This is one way to build love and peace in our world so desperately needing it.  One step at a time, right where we live.

 

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Categories: Faith, God, Hospitality, Love, Peace and Reconciliation, Prayer, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Trump Evil with Good and Win a Big Chocolate Bar!

 

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Let’s Trump Evil with Good and Win a Big Chocolate Bar!

 

Here is how to do it.  I have 5 big bars of Trader Joe’s Chocolate for the first 5 people who invite a Muslim friend, co-worker, or neighbor to dinner.  I ask that you simply invite them, cook a simple Halal meal, which could be vegetarian if you don’t have access to Halal meat.  Now ask your guests questions about their life and listen.  Please just listen and learn some things you’ve never known before.  This is how we make friends, how we make peace and defuse the crazy phobias flying around these days.  The first 5 people that get back to me with their address (US only please) and a simple description of their time I will send a 1 pound chocolate bar. I suspect you will receive an invitation in return and make a life long friend.  I hope this is true. How about taking this challenge?  Especially if you have never done this before.  

 

Let us be world changers together and truly “Love our neighbors as ourselves”. “Doing unto others what we would like them to do to us”, takes some thought.  What would it be like to be a Muslim in our country right now?  How could I do something to help ease their fears and anxiety?  What if I was in a foreign country where words were flying across the airwaves and threats being made about people of my faith? A simple invitation of hospitality might be a start.  May God bless you!  I hope to hear from you soon!

 

Categories: Advent, borderlands, Faith, God, Hope, Hospitality, Love, Peace and Reconciliation | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Small Taste of Needing Hospitality

 

It seemed like a normal day. Then it started raining after a sunny morning. Rain is normal for the Northwest but, we were going up to Bellingham in the afternoon to trade in our car for another one. Trading in a 03 VW Passat that was nickle and diming us, for 02 Toyota Prius with low milage and running well. Our margins were shrinking for getting up there in a timely fashion when my husband came in the door looking distraught.  The Passat looked like it’s radiator was bone dry.  It turned out it still had some fluid in there and filled up pretty fast when we added more antifreeze.  We had to stop and get some more, just in case.  Then we got out of town, but we found out on the way as we drove through Everett that the car dealer was closing at 5 not 5:30 and if we wanted to get the car that day we needed to be there by 4:45 at the latest.  That wasn’t going to happen. We looked at each other, not the best thing to do when you’re speeding down the freeway! So we had to decide as we headed north if we would turn around or go anyways and see if our friends we were having dinner with would take us in for the night. We struggled with the decision, knowing they really did not have room for us.  Fortunately, we were able to get a hold of him and he said just come on up, we’ll figure something. Their house is wonderful, but small.  No guest room. We tried calling another friend we have stayed with, but found out her grandson was staying with her.  Anyways, we kept driving in hope we would have somewhere to lay our heads that night, even if we didn’t have a toothbrush, change of clothes or Archie, our dog.  Quickly I sent a text to my son and daughter-in-law to ask them to visit Archie, our dog and let him out for a bit.  They happily agreed.

 

Just as we were almost to Bellingham our car started flashing signs at us. Stop!!! Oil!  Don’t drive anymore! Pull over immediately!!! Something like that. Well, we were on the freeway and on a curvy part going over a small pass through the hills. Ugh.  My husband safely pulled way over and we had a little bit of oil that we were able to pour in.  How did the oil dry up so fast?  We checked the dipstick.  It still had oil.  We were confused but kept going.  The signs stopped flashing for a little while, about 1 mile from our friends house it started again.  We kept going, but we were pretty frazzled by the time we showed up.  They had sent us a text that we didn’t get to meet at a brewery.  We had to turn Bill’s phone off to save battery since we didn’t bring our chargers thinking we’d be home the same night.

 

Our dear friends graciously invited us in and finished their dinner preparations to take along to the brewery we were going to.  She is an amazing cook, like you would not believe.  She had made a beautiful salad with olives and cranberries and tomatoes, with an exquisite dressing and amazing stuffed peppers.  Yum!  For dessert knowing I can’t tolerate much gluten she made coconut macaroons sprinkled with almonds and chocolate.  The funny thing was in my frazzled state when we got to their house and saw this beautiful food and that we were going out, I thought the food was for someone else.  My friend straightened me out and said “No, this is for us! The brewery doesn’t serve food only beer and live music.  We can bring food or order it from a truck outside.”  Wow!  I felt like there is a God in heaven.  Everything was falling into place again.  We had a lovely dinner, as you can imagine, and the most delicious beer ever.  All listening to a great bluegrass band that kept our feet tapping. Our friends didn’t mind us staying the night, in fact they fixed up their camper van that we had borrowed 2 summers ago for camping in the San Juans.  We had a cozy night listening to the rain and felt so comfortable remembering our fun camping trip.  They basically treated us as if Jesus himself had needed a place to lay his head. 

 

The next day we traded in our car and drove home without drama. One thing that stands out to me in my real life story is that there is something in me that doesn’t want to make a bother or a fuss.  I feel embarrassed and ashamed. I am wired not to ask for help! I guess it is something I sucked in from my culture and family as an independent American.  “Do it yourself and for heaven’s sake don’t bother anyone else.” Fortunately, our friends were so gracious that my awkward feelings quickly disappeared as they made us feel welcomed and loved.  My mind more than once thought of the refugees making their way across the sea to Greece and then further up the European continent.  They are fleeing for their safety and lives.  How do they feel?  How are they treated?  How are we doing with treating the foreigners in our midst as if they were Jesus himself?  Are we shaming them for needing us? Remember the parable:  “As you have done to the least of these you have done to me”? May God help us all to see His face in the face of the one who needs our help and hospitality.

Categories: Faith, God, Hospitality, Life, Love, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Family Gatherings

Our 1,750 square foot home did not feel very big when we gathered as a small clan for an extended time in mid wet winter.  There were a few days when 9 of us were together.  I am grateful for dear friends who let us use their “cabin”, which was bigger than our house, for those few days. Mix in a small dog with a toddler to liven things up and you can imagine the chaos at times. On the whole the 1,750 square feet were big enough, everyone had a bed or at least a mattress, enough bathrooms to share and room to cook in the kitchen to keep all of the above fed.

Compared to some parts of the world where we have traversed, our square footage is enormous. Many families in Hong Kong live in very small flats where gathering as a clan takes creativity. When we lived there, hospitality was often shared in a favorite restaurant. We were grateful for the rare opportunities to visit friends in their homes.  The refugees (boat people), who were our students, had one tier of a double sized bunk bed to call home. Yet, they still practiced hospitality and invited us to sit on low plastic stools to share a meal. Our Central Asian friends don’t worry about tables and chairs, they sit on colorful mats on the floor with a tablecloth spread out on the carpet for piles of food to share.  That way more people can squeeze into a room. Later they spread those same mats and more for sleeping.

I have been thinking this morning about how good it was to gather as a growing family.  It’s good to move our stuff and make room for each other. Our bonds were strengthened with each other. Our grandson will not remember the details of this visit in his long-term memory, but I believe he bonded with each of us in a special way that will continue through his life.  I’m smiling as I think of him singing “Teo, Teo, Teo”, (Uncle in Spanish) as he headed upstairs looking for his very fun Uncle. Or the report from his Mama that he woke up saying “Nana” a morning or two while he was here.

Another way it was good, was to see where love still needs to grow.  We don’t always know unless we are in a situation where it is challenged.  Say, tired and in need of a shower and both of the showers are in use.  Or, not quite enough of that fresh french pressed coffee to go around.  Or, whose on the dish duty, not me again? Or just trying to figure out what to do together. Things like that can help us see where our attitudes need adjusting.  If we live isolated lives we never really know where we need to grow. When the children were young and we all lived together,  there were daily lessons to be learned by all of us. Now I need my family to keep showing up for visits to keep that process going in my life. It’s not just knowing where I need to grow that is important, but also turning those needs into prayers and inviting the help of Heaven to bring about change on earth, in me.

I am tired and need to put my house back together again.  I need to get back into my regular schedule of writing and meeting with people, but above all I am so grateful for the sacrifices my kids and their spouses made to come home, travel from far away for the holidays.

Categories: Hospitality, Life, Love, Marriage and Family, Parenting, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hospitality

Welcome!

Come in

I am so glad to see you

Make yourself at home

Taste a bit of heaven

Earth traveler

Here is some food

Some conversation

To strengthen your soul

And lighten your heart

Rest for the next stage

Of your journey

Here is a quiet place

To hear the whispers

Of God’s love

 

© 2013 Julie Clark

 

Categories: Hospitality, Life, Love, Poetry, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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