I have been home convalescing from two dental surgeries and am frankly bored out of my gourd. I thought I would write about a unique experience I had some time ago that I never shared. A year and a half ago I was asked to accompany my cousin to a mosque for her college class. She was tasked to attend a place of worship different from her own. Probably because she knows I’m “the one that will go out on a limb” and try something new; she tapped me to go. My cousin informed me about the modest dress code and basic etiquette which I was familiar with having been to Africa. We drove to a stately neighborhood mosque on a damp day like today. We were both nervous about the unexpected. The prospect of delighting on the sugary incentive she presented in the car squelched my apprehension-slightly.
This day was a Friday, when Muslims attend service. We went during Ramadan the Islamic holy period of prayer and fasting, so the mosque was particularly crowded. We had arrangements with a liaison to escort us. After descending the winding parking structure, we timidly entered the building. We knew shoe removal was mandatory; but were not sure when we should take them off -“now; before we go up the stairs or should we wait until we get to the top, we pondered?! I decided I would be a copy-cat and observe the women around and do what they did.
We entered an upper room with only women and girls.The room had an expansive glass window to see below at the sanctuary where the speaker and the men were in service.There were televisions in the upper room to see and hear. I tried not to fidget underneath my steamy coverings while I read the notifications all around. “No shoes, no cell phones, no talking during service” displayed in multitude.
I got nervous when it came time to bow and pray! Again, I didn’t know what to do. I did my best to mimic the other women. I said my own prayers worshiping Jesus while simultaneously inviting the Holy Spirit. After sometime, a woman came over to me and placed additional “coverings” on me. I became flushed and embarrassed thinking I had somehow looked immodest and was being subtly reprimanded. I turned to my cousin with a “what the?” look on my face. I anxiously waited for this all to end so I could breathe again.
Upon dismissal, we conversed with our liaison. She reassured me that her draping me was so that I could have an authentic experience wearing traditional textile; not because of a violation.Wheeww! We donned our shoes and solemnly left. I felt like I had exited a transporter machine from the Middle East and was now smack dab in front of a 7/11 store! I was looking at passersby thinking; “do they even know where I have just come from?!”
I returned home and indulged in my sweets. My take home was that I appreciated the respect and holiness that the mosque is endowed.I feel that many Christian churches are too casual, ie., leaving discards, dressing inappropriately. I was grateful to have an experience with my cousin and also have a real world perspective that helps me connect with others the Lord would bring into my realm.