Last Friday, September 10, Rev. Ellie Barrington and my friend Jennifer were part of a group that went for a hike in the Gatineau hills. They hiked on challenging trails for three hours, after which an ice cream cone to celebrate their hard work seemed in order. As they waited in line at the ice cream shop, another group arrived to celebrate a different occasion. A carload of children, parents and grandparents pulled up to make ice cream a part of their Eid celebration.
Little girls in pretty dresses, patent leather shoes and little white socks bounced with excitement. Jennifer is an outgoing people person who loves kids. She struck up a conversation with the young girls, telling them that she thought their dresses were beautiful. The children bounced some more and told her all about Eid al-Fitr.
While Jennifer chatted, Ellie stood to the side watching the face of the father of these little girls. On a day when news of the anniversary of 9/11 and the possible burning of the Koran dominated the headlines, at first his face showed caution and concern. As the conversation continued though, and it became clear that Jennifer shared in their joy and knew all about Eid, the caution and concern changed to relief and then beaming pride and joy.
When hurt happens, caution and concern (on both sides) follow. How easily this dissipates when there is knowledge and shared joy.