Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering


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When the Spirit Is in Charge….


I have an “only the Holy Spirit could have arranged this” story to share today….

This past week, after my cataract-surgery follow-up appointment (All is well, by the way!), I told Henry I wanted to take a walk in the Tucson Mall, since we were very close and it’s too hot to walk outside. So we did. At one point, we saw a Muslim woman come over to an elevator where folks (including us) were having trouble figuring out how it worked. She didn’t speak with us, and turned away when she saw things were working, but I thought, “That looks like the woman I sat next to at the Iftar meal!”

You see, the night before we embarked on our cross-country, Bugs-on-the-Bumper trip, Henry and I joined a number of folks from my church in accepting an invitation to Iftar, the meal that Muslims eat to break their Ramadan fast. It was a fascinating evening, with delicious food, interesting conversation, and a chance to learn more about the Muslim faith. Toward the end of the evening, the question of sharing cooking classes came up, and I gave the woman my card in the hopes that she’d reach out so we could continue the conversation. I hadn’t heard from her and was feeling a bit disappointed.

DSC_0112 2 butterfliesThen, this week, as I watched the woman walk back to one of those cart-kiosks in the mall, I asked Henry if she looked familiar, and he said he thought so. So we went over and she was, indeed, the woman we had met at Iftar! We had a great conversation—she insisted on treating us (her “hospitality”) to coffee at the Starbucks right there by the carts, and we sat and talked where she could keep an eye on her cart. As I had learned during our meal together, E is from Turkey, and she’s here to learn English so that she can study for her doctorate back home. The kiosk job gives her a chance to practice her English.

We talked about a number of things, including the possibility of cooking classes, probably in the fall, since many activities shut down and people leave Tucson during the hot summer months. I was reminded of what Henry and I both felt when we shared that Iftar meal: We are all one human family. We have similar hopes and dreams, and the same deep desire for human connection and community, no matter the differences in our language, culture, and religious traditions.

Before we left, E and I traded contact information so we can keep in touch. I’m curious to see where God will take this clear invitation into relationship, into learning about “the other.” In an increasingly divided culture here in America, I am honored to be taking whatever small steps I can to be part of the One Human Family.

Has God ever handed you just such an “only the Spirit could have arranged this” opportunity? Did you reach out, take the invitation, follow through? How did that experience change/transform/enrich your life? If not, can you commit to keeping your spiritual eyes open for future opportunities?

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