This morning after gorging on chocolate, our family schlepped off to church. We're Catholic and we made some dressing compromises to what we might normally wear, adding collared shirts for the boys and skirts for Grace and me.
By the time the service started, the church was crowded with people standing around every wall. I noticed a man with jaw-length, frizzy gray hair and a navy jacket come in a side door after the service had already started. I thought no more about him.
After the homily, which is the sermon, the priest sits down and we reflect on his words. Today he talked about expectations. He joked that expectations are just premeditated disappointments. Then he used an example of George on Seinfeld and how he decided to keep making the opposite decision of what he would normally do. It all tied back to the Apostles expectations after Jesus died.
Anyway, in the silence of meditation after the homily, the man with the frizzy gray hair yelled out, "Allah is great!"
Now, when I first heard his voice, I expected that this might be a new dynamic to the service. Our church has been known to put on plays, to have liturgical dancers, who was to say that this wasn't part of the Easter mass.
But when the man bolted from the church, we realized he wasn't a planned part of the service.
I thought it was strange, but we go to the Newman Center. Most people in attendance would probably have agreed with him. "Allah is great!" Then they might have taken it a step farther. "Yahweh is great!"
Our liberal church accepts other beliefs. We study our history which began Jewish and we've had Muslim leaders in to talk about their beliefs. The man wouldn't get a rise out of us for shouting "Allah is great."
But within a minute, I felt Grace's body trembling beside me. We no longer live in the kind of world where we can hear a man shout his belief in Islam without fearing that violence will follow.
I hugged Grace and told her that everything was fine. She asked me to come with her to get a drink of water and I did. Then I went back into church and she stayed in the outer rooms. I had just whispered to Earl that he should go looking for her before the Lord's Prayer. "I will after the Our Father," he said.
In our church we hold hands and then raise them on "the kingdom, the power and the glory." Before we reached that part, Grace came back in and slipped her hands to me and Earl.
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