Theology in the Trenches

Strangers ... unaware we’re not
Kathleen Kjolhaug
Friday, October 18, 2019
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Religion Columnist

The young boy appeared to be all alone. At least that was my first impression.

His clothing looked like mine, but the straightness of his hair and the way it spread about all dark like over the covering of his head signaled that he was indeed from a land far away. Just who was the stranger among us was yet to be determined.

His features were a giveaway that he was not from these parts, and I wondered if he spoke English. I watched and waited. You can’t be too careful nowadays, they say. Who “they” are I do not know, but I kept watch because eventually when you hear it often enough, you tend to beware or at least aware … just in case.

The setting we were in was safe … or was it? Apparently, danger is lurking around each corner, but the young man didn’t seem to be sensing it. No, he didn’t mind at all that I looked different. In fact, he was so relaxed that he actually had his eyes closed.

Of course, from my vantage point, I took advantage of it and glanced his way several times.

A mass of people swirled round him … yet he, remaining quite focused and did not move. This young foreigner seemed to be in a world all his own. His head was tipped down, and while everyone else was walking and moving, he was bent in an L shaped position.

Odd, I thought, for such a young man to be so still for so long.

After several minutes, he stirred. He stirred to consciousness and opened his eyes. As he did, he looked up. Directly and unashamedly onto the object just above him, he did focus. Intently he stared, and in turn, so did I. He began to make his move and do so quickly. An odd feeling came over me as I began to move in the same direction.

Rapidly he left. Escape he did from where he’d been. Bowing slightly before leaving the sanctuary in which he had been praying, he joined the rest of the crowd exiting the building.

With a wave of smiles, he located his family as they chatted among themselves.

It was holy ground on which we stood. I knew it was because there was a peace that passes all understanding in the midst of the scene unfolding.

A stranger in my own land I have become, at times, when not recognizing that all … yes all … are made in His image and likeness. And when the foreigners greet one another, no longer strangers are we. With the return of a smile, a cup of water given, a loaf of bread shared, or with a nod of the head … I acknowledge that the other exists.

“He has shown you, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. It’s to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). Amen.

( Kathleen Kjolhaug is a religion columnist.)