My Psalm 23
June 30, 2014
He was a college graduate, soft-spoken, well-dressed, and very professional in his work. Cordial but not over-friendly, my new coworker seemed as out of place to the others in the office and I felt. Very kindly he showed me where the office supplies were kept, and then offered to answer any questions I might have. Not the most auspicious beginning of a deep friendship but it was enough. To my surprise, the only thing people held against him was his faithfulness to his religion.
Most of us have a holy time in our spiritual walk. For some it is a meditative time; for some, the season of Advent; for others, the penitential season of Lent; for some Hanukkah. No one laughed when another coworker who attended the same church I did and I moaned about giving up something for Lent. Everyone loved the Advent calendar someone put on each desk and the daily bit of candy received when the calendar window for that day was opened. So why get bothered by a man who came in early, left ten of fifteen minutes late every day and always had his work done? The same people that took two morning and two afternoon smoke breaks felt it improper that this man took two or three prayer breaks. He was Muslim and so, during the day, would pause for his daily prayers.
“Do unto others” often means something we are not prepared to do, even though most of us would agree it is a great rule to try to follow. However, when it gets right down to it, we somehow never see the other person’s perspective. The Islamic coworker had his own office when I started in the department but soon reshuffling took place and he was put out into a larger room, his desk at the back of the grouping. He would quietly roll out his prayer rug and kneel beside his desk but still, people would not resist trying to engage him while he was in prayer. I had a private office and so, after a week, stopped him one morning as he picked up his prayer rug and took it from him. “It goes in here,” I told him, walking back to my office. He followed, puzzled. I gave him back to him and told him, if he didn’t bother me sitting at my desk while he prayed, I’d be honored if he used my office whenever he liked.
We became even closer and shared religious opinions, debated, and respected our own faith and the other’s beliefs. He gave me a copy of the Koran in English to read, explaining that one really had to read it in Arabic to really “get it” but reading it in English should prove interesting. Whenever I cooked food and took to the office, usually a breakfast treat for an early morning meeting, I made sure it complied with his religious tenets since no one else had culinary restraints due to their faith or diet. In short, we treated each other as we would have liked to be treated…..and were. We were two people with two strong beliefs in two Abrahamic religions. I think Father Abraham would have been pleased.
We are now in the season of Ramadan for our Islamic brethren. From sun rise to sunset, they do not eat, paying penance and giving deep meditation to their faith. From June 28th to July 28th, they will partake of this ancient tradition, marking their devotion and engaging in the introspective, peace-finding beliefs that mark Islam. There will be no big parade or brightly decorated windows. They will be respectful, peaceful (if they are truly faithful), and they will experience their faith at its most individual and deepest level. I hope you will honor those you know who are Islamic as they go through Ramadan. It is, after all, what Jesus of Nazareth commanded us to do – for all people, for all times.
Recipe –Savory Squares
This recipe can be made with sausage or, if you are feeding an Islamic friend (Muslims do not eat pork.), ground beef or perhaps turkey. I should note that I deliberately waited until after sundown to post today’s blog in respect for our Islamic friend. Enjoy, please! [Remember that Jewish friends that eat “kosher” do not combine dairy and meat. However, this is great when using only vegetables and/or vegetable burgers!]
1 cup biscuit mix: either dry biscuit ingredients according to your favorite recipe or a prepackaged biscuit mix
1 cup milk
12 oz (1 ½ cups) grilled or sautéed onions, peppers, mushrooms, sliced squash – your choice!
1 pound browned meat: sausage, ground beef*, ground turkey*
1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce
8 oz grated cheddar cheese
*season beef and turkey to taste – salt, pepper, etc.
Prepare: Brown the meat and sauté or grill the vegetables. Drain both very well. Let meat and vegetables cool for five minutes and then add 6 oz of the grated cheese and stir well. Beat eggs and add milk. Add dry biscuit ingredients to eggs and milk and mix well. Pour the biscuit/egg mixture in the bottom of a baking dish. Combine the meat/vegetables/cheese mixture and pour into the baking dish. Cover with the remaining 2 oz of cheese and bake in a 375-f-degree oven for approximately thirty minutes or until cooked. Cut into squares and serve with fresh fruit or a green salad. Bon Appétit!
My Psalm 23
My Lord is a great God.
There is nothing I will ever face
That He cannot defeat.
He will protect me and comfort me.
I may be lost in a jungle of hatred;
I may fear for my life.
God will be there with me.
He is my refuge.
He is my protector.
He is my God and I am never alone.