Don’t hurt my kid because she isn’t like you

Don’t hurt my kid because she isn’t like you

I am a Christian… an Episcopalian in point of fact, which is one of the more progressive versions of Christianity in the United States. I was born in Mobile, Alabama but have lived in another country and multiple states because of first my mother’s jobs and then my own. I’ve lived in Venezuela, Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana and come back to the greater Mobile area to reside on the Eastern Shore in Alabama. My daughter was born when I was 20 in Orlando, Florida and she was raised in several of the states above. She probably officially considers her hometown a toss up between Orlando and Mobile because all of her mom’s family is in Mobile and all of her Dad’s is in Orlando. Well, all of her Dad’s that live in the United States. Her father is actually originally from Morocco. I met him when I worked at Disney World… Epcot Center to be precise, at the Moroccan pavilion. This was long before the notion of the Middle East as a terrorist threat became ingrained in the American psyche… in fact everyone really just thought “Aladdin”  and “Casablanca” when they thought of places like Morocco. Very exotic and romantic. As an 18 year old I was quite swept away.

As my daughter grew up as a typical American kid, she tried on many religions… as I thought it best to let her explore her beliefs. Her father being Muslim and me being Episcopal… I didn’t want to force her to choose one or the other. She actually was baptized at about 9 years old because she decided that she wanted to be Episcopal. But as she got older she grew dissatisfied and explored other options. She was Hindu for a month or so and eventually she went to visit her father for the summer and started to learn more about Islam. She felt a strong connection to it and began to study it and want to practice it. Over the next several years she continued to grow and deepen in her faith and commitment until she was a full member of that religion. It was hard to accept, 9/11 had happened by then and I felt terror at the idea of what she potentially faced from my fellow Americans. It would be so much easier if she just didn’t let anyone know… but of course I supported her decisions despite my fears. There may have been some counseling involved.

Now every day my 5 foot 3 inch tall, 25 year old daughter who is in nursing school lives with people looking at her with fear and hostility. Even when she has her two small kids, my grandsons, in tow. Grandsons who I just taught to catch a football and yell “Roll Tide!” Grandsons aged 3 and 6 who will be American Muslim men one day. I mean my huggy little boys, who play with the dinosaur toys, and elephant toys, and a parade of stuffed animals, will be hated by people all over this country and there is nothing I can do about it. My daughter is automatically hated by people right now and there is nothing I can do. I can’t protect her. The only comfort is that she lives in a bigger city up north at least, where she can blend in. She refuses to live in Alabama where she is too afraid she’d be attacked. But that means I don’t get to see them very much.
Do you know what that is like? To be a regular American afraid my kid might be attacked, harassed, spit on or insulted at any time by other people in my country simply because of her religion? How is our country, which was founded in part to escape exactly this type of persecution, now a place where this is the norm?

When I go to church I look around and know most of the people there would not have an issue with me having a daughter who is Muslim, but then again… some might. Just today I had to issue a warning on my Facebook alerting people that hate speech about Muslims would result in unfriending and requesting that people who hate Muslims unfriend me. The attack in Paris seems to have sent some people off the deep end. In Alabama, the Governor has decided that fleeing the Daesh (also known as ISIS /ISIL who are literally NOT EVEN Islamic despite their appropriating the name… kind of like Westboro Baptist “Church” is “Christian,”) makes you a terrorist, even though you are running for your life and a refugee. Xenophobic, Islamophobic, and a persecutor of the poor…Gov. Bentley is like The Simpsons Mr. Burns incarnate. Someone told my daughter she was lucky she was in the US now. Even though she was BORN here and fricking grew up in Alabama, Florida and Massachusetts and played Pokemon and watched cartoons and ate McDonald’s like every other kid in the US.

So I pray that when people see her they actually see HER, my kid, my daughter, who dressed up as Pikachu when she was 8. Who played soccer when she was 5. Who attended St. Paul’s Episcopal School for Kindergarten. Not someone to be afraid of, not a terrorist, Just a young woman from the South trying to become a nurse and take care of her family who happens to practice a religion that her father taught her because it spoke to her heart. And if you happen to see a Muslim when you are out… just remember, she is someone’s kid like mine and be kind.

Quick Note

Hello from Orlando. I am now a mother-in law of a wonderful son-in-law and of course still mother to my beautiful daughter. The ceremony was joyful and the party was about 6 hours long. She wore three different intricate, breathtaking dresses that were hand sewn in Morocco. I will post pictures of them soon. Mom, my Aunt Anne and I went to Downtown Disney after the party last night and had a stiff drink (Jameson’s for me) at the Irish pub to toast the happy couple. Of course, in the Muslim religion there is no drinking so they knew nothing about it. 🙂 The pub, called Raglan Road, had a live Irish band and step dancer. Tonight we are going to see Tropic Thunder, check out a restaurant at the Animal Kingdom resort and might go to the Adventurer’s Club one last time since they are closing it forever in September.

This morning I woke up and had a nice cup of Harney and Sons English Breakfast before going to meet my dear friend Aimee from Universal for lunch at Bubbaloos bar-b-que. One of our old faves. Unbelievably, our first boss at Universal who we had both lost touch with, just happened to sit next to us. Talk about serendipity. That was great. I loved catching up with both of them and hope to see Aimee and her family  more often now that Bonnie is married. I would like to try and visit a little more often.

My good friend Hugh let me know that Tucker attended the Community Living Club meeting, a social club for mentally challenged adults in our community that I volunteer at, that took place at church yesterday and livened up the party. I was so happy to hear that. He’s such a good dog. I am about to go to a gourmet dog bakery and get him a special treat.

I only have internet access at a local Panera and since I am always accompanied by my aunt and mom I am limited by my alloted time. I also forgot my cell phone charger so I am rationing my cell phone use. I picked up one of those battery operated quick chargers but it is sporadic and not entirely dependable.

After all, tomorrow is another day

Ahh, the unforgettable words of Scarlett O’Hara as she lies crying on the stairs after Rhett’s departure.

I am not thinking about losses right now. Instead I am trying to just focus on my work at school, and my relationship with God. I am waiting for the results of the Cargoes competition, even though I don’t think I will win it, I wanted to see if I would even get in.

I met my new Spiritual Director yesterday and it was a relief to unburden myself of all the experiences I have been carrying around for the last year. Just somewhere safe to talk about my “moments of zen” for lack of a better word when I experience something out of the ordinary. When God seems to reach out and tip up my chin to speak to me.

We read Kafka’s journal for English and I really appreciated it. I sympathized with him because right now and into the future looks like a long lonely road where no one will ever understand my experience and any chance I take at sharing it could result in rejection. I feel very wounded by my last meaningful relationship. I am trying not to take it as an indicator of how futile it is to try and fully share with another human being. I want to live in hope that one day I will have someone to love that will be strong enough and man enough for me. I say that semi-sarcastically, though it does seem that I am stronger than almost, if not every man I meet. It’s hard not to lose respect for them. Once respect has fallen, love is sure to follow…dissipating into a fine half-remembered mist.

Lately I have been listening to sermons and recordings of some Christian education classes I took at the National Cathedral. Sam Lloyd was my rector at Trinity Copley in Boston and now he is the Dean of the National Cathedral. In one class he was going over the differences between Agape and Adakia love. I was reminded of this by the CS Lewis class that I am currently taking at church. In any case, Dean Lloyd started talking about this poem he wanted to share with us. It was written by CS Lewis as he was losing his wife of 3 years to cancer. Love came late to his life and at this point he was considered one of the most famous Christians in Christandom. So it’s all the more revelatory that he writes this poem after achieving some recognition and is famous for his Christian-ness.

As the Ruin Falls

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.
Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love –a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek–
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.
Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.
For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.

C S Lewis

I just keep thinking of that poem. I wonder how far I can make it out of my proper skin.
Then there is this little gem, which I trust will be less and less true as day follows day or as soon as I see my daughter again.

Separation
by W. S. Merwin
Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

The girl next to me reeks of cigarette smoke, I am in the small niche just outside the classroom in Dana typing away and the smell is so pervasive it is driving me away.
Let me print my chili recipe for tomorrow’s Horizon chili-cook off and my list of the teachers I am to call at my daughter’s command.

How much of what hurts in me is really missing her?
Maybe more than I can admit or face and hope to continue on this path.
Until later.