Pope Francis came to the United States today! It’s a big day for Catholics because he is the leader of their church. But really, it’s a big deal for everyone. Pope Francis is a role model and a leader-in-change. He looks at things differently. He is a man of acceptance and love. He sees globally. His ideas are to some, radical, to others, freeing.
A while back, one of my students shared with me (through much broken English and back-and-forth pantomime) that she was fasting and that she would fast until dark. This particular student is Muslim. I did a little research and found that Muslims fast for Ramadan. During Ramadan Muslims take time to pray, reflect, and worship. They do this in part by abstaining from food and drink from dawn to dusk. Big meals are prepared and eaten before sunrise and again after sunset.
I shared with her my religious practices surrounding Lent. Lent is a special time for Christians to pray, reflect and worship too. I told her about our Friday fasts and that the very old, the very young, and sick were exempt. She shared that that was her religion’s practice too.
Today is the eve of Eid-al-Adha. It is the Feast of Sacrifice. This holiday commemorates Abraham’s willingness to follow God’s command to sacrifice his own son. This story is well-known to Christians and Jews also. The Bible and Torah tell of how God stopped Abraham from performing his sacrifice at the last moment and gave him a sheep to sacrifice instead. My Islamic students are filled with anticipation and excitement for tomorrow-- like Christmas to Christians. They will go to their church, probably in new clothes, and then gather with friends and family for a meal.
I have been lucky enough to learn that, in general, people- no matter what their county, nationality, or religion- are not all so different from one another. We all want freedom to think and do. We want our families to be safe and happy. I guess my adult ESL students are having a big impact on me.