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Posts Tagged ‘Spirituality’

a work by nusret colpan depicting the islamic ...

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This time last year, I was beginning to think about voluntarily deploying with the TN National Guard to join the war efforts, mainly to get a steady paycheck. I had no love of this Arabic culture, which was a culture to me just weird, and even a little eerie. All of that strangely played music and singing. The strange dresses, even on the men. Just.. eww..

Well, here I am, a year later, with nearly that long of time spent in the countries of Kuwait and Iraq. I am amazed at the place these people have in my heart, and I do not speak lightly when I use the word “amazed.” I felt so proud to be in this region when the Iraqis went to the polls and voted.

“Iraqis are not afraid of bombs anymore,” said Maliq Bedawi, 45, defiantly waving his finger, stained with purple ink, to indicate he had voted, as he stood near the rubble of an apartment building in Baghdad hit by a huge rocket in the deadliest attack of the day. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/08/world/middleeast/08iraq.html?_r=1

The people have earned my respect with their big hearts. Sure, they are still learning how to have a working government – dare I say we are still perfecting that concept in the United States?

One of the best classes I have had here on base has been “Arab Cultural Awareness,” taught by a raven-haired Arab-American woman with a bubbly personality,  and I would like to share with you some of my chicken scratch notes, and formulated thoughts.

  • Culture – shared tradition of beliefs.
  • There are 22 Arabic Speaking Countries, which share language, traditions, and customs, separate from religion.
  • There is a lot of hand shaking going on. Every time they see a person, it is with the looong hand shaking, small talk, hospitality. It would be rude to do otherwise. Men will shake hands with each other. A man will offer a woman the top side of his hand to be polite, yet remain clean himself from touching the woman’s palm.
  • The 5 Pillars of Islam1.) Prayer, 2.) Pilgrimage, 3.) Testifying there is no God but Muhammad, 4.) The Fasting of Ramadan, 5.) Tithing, Charity.
  • Orient yourself to prayer time. Dawn prayers, noon prayers, afternoon prayers, evening prayers…about every three hours. This may explain why a person has to wait longer at certain times of the day for a cab to the airport, etc.
  • The Sunni follow teachings of Muhammad / The Shia believe the succession should have gone to Ali.
  • Algebra is from the Arabic Nations.
  • The country of Kuwait (where I am currently stationed), is a Constitutional Monarchy with a Parliamentary System of Government, which was recognized in 1961 from the Arab League of Nations.
  • There are many languages spoken in Kuwait, including Tagalog – from the Philippines, Tamil – from Sri Lanka,  Urdu – from Pakistan, and Hindi – from India.
  • There exists a multi-tiered citizenship system. All non-Kuwaiti residents would be no greater than 4th class residents, which is say what I would be, if I chose to live as a civilian in this country.

What I drew from this class,  from my mental notes that went beyond my notebook, was how there are safeguards built into the Arabic culture to protect the women. It is not a matter of them being lesser, it is of the women being separate. It is something that our liberated Western culture has difficulty grasping as good and normal. But for the Arab people, this is how they see fit to live. I do not have to live by the culture to respect it, as I do not have to live by the 5 Pillars of Islam to be able to respect them, and appreciate the great devotion its people have.

So many of our grievances come from a lack of understanding of other cultures. It takes effort to understand ideals other than those that ring true in each of us. But I truly believe it is worth the effort. Hmm…perhaps if Obama would bring Eastern and Western world leaders together to share tea, shoot, even some special brownies made from the herb that grows so freely in Afghanistan where we occupy…..maybe, just maybe, they would have moments of resistance being lowered enough to appreciate the God-given glory in each other.  These people are our brothers.

That is all.

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Sumner County Medical Center in Gallatin, Tenn...

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I stretch, groan, wake up to my alarm, which is set way too early for a Sunday morning. Did I really volunteer to pick up extra work hours this weekend?…wwwwhyyyy?? So I get myself out the door, and on the drive in to the hospital, I get this warm feeling in my middle, the closer I get to work. It has something to do with the quiet of the streets on a Sunday morning, the sun rising, and the knowing of what sorts of good things are going to happen within the next few hours. This is church for me, I remember.

This is the place where I get the most incredible soul feeding! It isn’t because giving of myself is so important, no. It is because I am a selfish being at my core, and I adore this feeling I get when I connect with another human on this level, and I simply must have more of it!!

I think of the last weekend that I worked. Mrs Stanich had just had her total hip replacement, and that day was the first day she would get out of her bed and take a few steps.

“Oohh….no, I can’t…I just can’t” Mrs Stanich pleaded for us to come back later.

“Now, Mrs Stanich, the doctor says we have to try this morning, and I promise you it wont hurt your operation. You will be a little bit sore, but that’s okay,” the physical therapist explained.

“No…no, I can’t. I’m not ready”

“Mrs Stanich,” I got on my knees to look at her eyes. I could see she was afraid, but I knew if she would look at me, I might be able to reach her, “these exercises are going to help you get home sooner. Will you try with us? Will you do it for me? C’mon let’s try, we’ll do it together.” She nodded, still feeling cautious, but I knew I had reached her. I was exhilarated, and as I glanced over at her grown daughter who was with her, I could sense that she was feeling it too.

I knew enough not to let her leg cross over the other, so I took my position under her right shoulder, the therapist on the other side, and we would help her stand inside the walker. “Now you are going to hold your walker, and Sarah and I are going to be walking right beside you. You’re going to be just fine,” the therapist comforted her patient.

We slowly, very slowly took Mrs Stanich to the door of her room and turned and came back to the side of her bed. I could tell, June wanted to stand up and cheer, but instead told her mom how proud she was of her. Mrs Stanich was beaming. We sat her back in her bed, removed the walker to the other side of her room where it would stay until her next therapy session.

“Are you two coming back again today? Please say you are coming back,” the frail woman pleaded.

“Now Sunday is only one session per day, but your therapist will be back tomorrow, and you will be in very good  hands, we promise.”

As I left the room, I had the most gratifying feeling inside of me. There is nothing for me to complain about when the greatest accomplishment of the day for this brave woman was making her way across the room and back. If ever there was a Christ consciousness, this was it. This was my best church time, where my soul was fed – no, where it feasted!

New Living Translation (©2007)
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

*Names have been changed, for patient privacy.

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The Universe does not know or care whether the vibration you’re offering is in response to something you are living right now, and observing, or in response to something you are imagining. In either case, the Universe accepts it as your point of attraction and matches it.

-Abraham

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