Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pointing East

The someday-Christian-pastor is the part of me getting the most of a work-out in CPE.

But the whole-world-interfaith me and the spiritual-director-who-loves-to-help-people-with-prayer me get to play, too.

This morning a woman from the Mideast wanted to know, through the family member interpreting for her, which direction from her hospital room is east. Although I am gifted with no sense of geography whatever, I was able to respond with confidence by looking out from her window down onto the hill that leads to my house - on the east side of the city.

And so today I got to provide pastoral care for a Muslim woman from far, far away by helping her with her prayer. Spiritual direction in the literal sense of the word.

How cool is that!?

Of course, that does not obviate the fact that last night I lost my pager.

There is always something lurking out there just waiting to confirm one's level of incompetence.


Carol said...

But your ability to see the gifts in the simple things negates any level of incompetence. I'm guessing you're neither the first nor the last person to lose their pager.

Joan Calvin said...

When I was there an Iman came to speak to us. He pointed us to Mecca. It's actually northeast (great circle; early Muslims were fantastic astronomers and mathematicians). He of course asked us first which was the direction to Mecca and we all got it wrong. (I guessed southeast.) I hope I'm not too much of a know-it-all. It's fun remembering my time there when you post.

Blessings on your time there.

Gannet Girl said...

JC, that made me very curious. If I am reading the maps correctly (yes, I do love google; how did we ever live without it?), Mecca is at about 20 degrees latitude and we are at about 45, which would make it southeast of us. And would make you more right than me.

But I do know for sure that the early Muslims were far more adept astronomically and mathematically than I am. I do not know how exacting a Muslim is supposed to be in her prayer in terms of directionality.

I wish someone would confirm all this one way or another so I could tell my patient tomorrow.

Kathryn J. said...

You are absolutely the best person to be there for all of the people for whom you provide care and counseling. Your wide, ecumenical view and attitude of acceptance is probably the most one of the most important things they need right now.

I am googling this and will get back to you. There is some wierd directional stuff on one website that makes it look like it's NE from there.

Erin said...

I'd recommend, a site that lets find the direction of the Kaaba (what Muslims pray towards) from anywhere in the world. Just put in your location, and a little compass appears, taking all the challenge out of finding the qibla. Some cell phones in the Middle East come with their own built in compass software, ensuring that the owner can find Mecca, regardless of where they are. Pretty handy, eh?
Muslims pray towards Mecca, and are buried towards Mecca as well, recognizing it as the center of their religion. During the life of the Prophet Muhammad however, the first Muslims were told by the Prophet to pray towards Jerusalem (Al Quds in Arabic), as that was the home of so many great prophets in the Islamic tradition. Later, the importance of Mecca rose and the direction of prayer was changed.

Wish an Assalam aleykum to your patient for me!


Stratoz said...

GG-- love yourself in the midst of this whirlwind. May a bird of much beauty brighten your day... and may it be a comon one that has been a friend for many years.

Gannet Girl said...

It does say NE on Erin's site, but the latitudes are close to my estimate. I totally do not get it. Such a good thing I have never been in charge of world exploration.