Trinity’s dear friends at the Islamic Civic Center of America, ICSA/Dar Al-Hijrah held their first fundraiser last week. Five of us from Trinity were able to attend. It was a wonderful evening with great food, conversation, and friends old and new.
Several weeks before the event Wali Dirie, the Executive Director, asked if they could borrow our plates and chairs. They knew we had them. In 2014 and 2015 they had used our lower level, Augsburg’s Cedar Commons, for a year and a half while their building was being repaired after extensive smoke and water damage from a fire in the building next to theirs.
Asking to use our plates and chairs might not seem like a big deal. But it is. They have supported us and we have supported them in various ways over the years. We have worked together in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood on a number of initiatives. They have hosted us at annual Iftars and other gatherings and we have invited them over number of times, including a Fat Tuesday pancake supper with all the fat you could want before Lent. We have even prayed together.
While chairs and plates are nothing special, to me they are a symbol of the relationship that we have been building together. In a world where we are supposed to be afraid of each other and suspicious of each other’s beliefs it seems to me that asking to borrow chairs and plates is a big deal. It is a downright neighborly thing to do and speaks of great trust and respect and friendship.
It turned out that they did not need our plates. But I saw our chairs there, some of them well-mended with ample black duct tape. And as all of us ate together with our friends at ICSA/Dar Al-Hijrah some of the guests were sitting on our chairs!
It’s not about theological debates or arguments. It’s not about having the same name for God or proving that one’s belief system is the right one. Sometimes it is just about simple chairs and plates. It made me smile and I can’t help thinking that God was pleased as well.