Thursday, March 31, 2011
Today I am really grateful for the experience I got to have over lunch today. In an effort to gain some of the positive energy that's clearly evident around the VCU campus this week, I took a stroll through the undergrad campus. In all honesty, I was hoping to spot one of the VCU players. Well, I did spot Skeen, but this occurence pails in comparison to the experience I would have minutes later. As I continued my walk towards the student center on the southside of the campus, I stopped in the restroom before headeding back to work. Before I left the student center, I decided to drop in the interfaith meditation/prayer room in the student center. I've been to this meditation room a few times in the past and figured I would have a few minutes to myself to pray and catch up with God. All the other times I've visited this room, I have had it to myself. I figured VCU just put it in their student center because they had to, to fulfill someone's wishes who had given them money. It is actually a pretty peaceful place to get away from noise and to spend some time in silence or prayer. When I opened the door, there was a girl actually headed out and seemed in a hurry, so I did my best to get out of the way before I entered. When I entered, I noticed there was a girl curled up in the corner of the room with a tissue. She was wearing a Hijab and seemed to be reading something off of her cell phone. It didn't appear that she had been crying, but seemed to be sad about something. I asked her if she was OK, and at first I don't think she understood me very well. I asked again, and made sure that I wouldn't bother her by sitting in the room with her. She said that she was doing OK and that it was alright for me to stay. As I sat in my chair and began to pray, I couldn't help but think about what I was experiencing. After a few moments, a friend of this girl's walked in the room and took her shoes off. They shook hands and started talking to one another in their native language which I was unsure of at the time. It was only moments after that this second girl reached in a small cabinet in the prayer room and pulled out a rug that she would use to pray on. Within another minute she was on her knees and praying. This probably lasted about 5 minutes. I did my best to pray, but I think God had something else in mind and this was to admire these women for their dedication to one another and to their beliefs. I quickly thanked God for this opportunity and waited patiently, not wanting to disrupt her while she was praying. On my way out, I introduced myself to the first girl and she told me that her name was Malak. I asked her if she prays there each day and she said that she does. I thanked her for letting me pray with her in the space and asked her where she was from. She told me that she is from Saudi Arabia and reassured me that she didn't mind me being in there while they were doing their prayers. It was definitely a powerful moment for me. This was the first time I had expressed my faith in an intimate setting with a muslim and I hope it is not the last. I didn't really know what to expect when I walked into that room today. I definitely was convicted as I saw these two girls who seemed very devoted to their prayers, making time in between their busy days to not only commune with their god, but also with one another. I found this sight beautiful and empowering. I don't know if I will ever see these two girls again or if anything long term will come about, but I am realizing more and more how much God wants to teach us through people of other religions and beliefs about Himself and His love for the people of this world.