Still holding hands after 32 years
What makes us so different from another? On my trip to the Middle East, I explored this question over and over again. I could probably give a surface answer. The dress, the customs--maybe. Then I realized, that I was asking the wrong question. The question should not be about our differences although I believe that I should celebrate those differences of culture and language. Instead, I ask myself, what makes us the same?My daughter of the heart, Reed, told me when I arrived in Jordan that I needed to understand three Arabic words: yalla, walla and inshallah. They translate into hurry, really? and God willing. Of course, I know that shukran, Arabic for "thank you" is a very important word. Oh, and also law samaht for please. Still, having Arabic speaking friends, I have picked up words I really love to say, especially habibi or habibti--meaning beloved for male and female loved ones. Which is why the people in this picture held such interest for me. Throughout my time with them, I heard him say habibti a least a hundred times.
On my tour to Petra and Wadi Rum I sat across from this couple from Bahrain who I learned were celebrating 32 years of marriage. He said, "She's still spicy" and smiled. I remember him introducing her to me, telling me that her name, Iptisam, meant "to smile." And she did. Often. Reminds me of a story I like to tell of a little boy who meets a woman in the park who smiles at him. Later when he recalls the meeting of this woman to his mother, he tells her "I had lunch with God. She has such a pretty smile." Iptisam had God's smile. Like the boy in the story, I, too, was enchanted by Iptisam's smile and I believe it was for that reason.
I had fallen in Petra and both Iptisam and her husband inquired hourly of my health. I felt taken care of by their warmth and caring. Later, when we took a picture together (I'm at least 9 inches taller than she), I kissed the top of her head and she pulled my head down to kiss my cheek. I thought of my mother and grandmother. It was the eyes, I first thought and then I later realized, it was the heart. We all have the same heart. It pumps for love, for hope and freedom. Is that so hard to understand? Also, on the tour with us was another couple from Palestine. They joked and held hands, too. They had been married 15 days. Seen here (I asked to take their picture), this young woman had a smile that could light up the sky. They both seemed so happy and I pointed to the older couple and said, "This is what you should aspire to. They've been married 32 years and are still the light in each other's eyes." Barriers of language--perhaps--but in their smiles you see that they understood even with my very, very limited Arabic.
What I think I learned best, however, was this. Love conquers all. If we take ourselves out of our comfort zones and try to get to know one another, we could--can--no, will make this a better world. Inshallah. Amen.