Thursday, February 17, 2011

Prayer in the Schools

Last night, my office suite was a hub of activity. Several students were camped out there before class, doing make-up work or preparing for future work (my office suite has a conference room and two desks in the outer area, and in the evening, I'm the only one there, and it's cool with me if people use the space). A woman appeared, and in a soft voice, she asked me, "Can I pray?" She looked beyond me to the occupied conference room.

A variety of responses went through my head, but fortunately, I kept my presence of mind. I asked, "Would you like a more private place? I can open one of the empty offices."

The woman wore a head scarf, so I assumed that she was Muslim. I took a moment to think about the fact that a first had happened: I've never had a Muslim student ask for prayer space. It's not like we have lots of visible Muslims in our school; I see one or two women with head scarves in any given week, but not many more. And yes, I realize that there might be lots of Muslims who aren't immediately obvious.

Last night I sat in my office, with a student praying in the office to my right, and students prepping in the spaces to my left. I felt that interesting thinning of space, that occasional luminous shimmer, where I feel the veil between the Divine and the everyday lifts, just for an instant.

I took a moment to wish that our school had dedicated prayer space, although I realize all the problems inherent in creating such a space. So, for now, I'm grateful for unused offices that students can use to pray--not too long ago, we didn't have a scrap of unused space. I'm grateful that a religious student felt comfortable enough to ask me for prayer space. I'm grateful that I have an ecumenical mind set, so that I didn't feel it necessary to proselytize. I'm grateful for the many routes to God.


ernie said...

Very... Nicee... Blog.. I really appreciate it... Thanks..:-)

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm glad there are many routes to God...YHWH was very pleased when Israel felt that way too in the OT.