“We are more alike than we are unalike.” Maya Angelou, “The Human Family”
In my last post, ("Open Your Heart", August 17) I talked about having open hearts. I confessed that sometimes I find it difficult to open my heart to the refugee women who work with Peace of Thread because they come from different cultures than I do. So I’d like to take a different track in today’s post. I want to emphasize that cultural differences-while daunting-are not a barrier to forming friendships.
The women who come to Peace of Thread headquarters on Wednesdays and Fridays are a very diverse group. We consist of both American-born women and refugees. We are different races (White, Black, Asian) and different religions (Muslim and Christian). Some of us wear hijabs or burkas while others of us don’t. Some of us bring pork for lunch while others wouldn’t dream of even touching a piece of dead pig. With such differences between us, you’d think there would be a lot of room for conflict. And there is. But there’s also room for friendship.
For instance, I love sitting at a table and listening to Noor talk, even if she’s only discussing her doctor’s appointments. Her voice is so musical, and her manner is so warm. I also love Ergaleem’s smile when I share my grapes with her. I like hearing Anisa laugh at her own joke. When I experience these things, I am reminded of Peace of Thread’s main purpose: to connect women of all backgrounds.
Anisa’s hospital stay back in May (see my May 27th post “Peace of Thread: More Than Just Purses”) showed me how deep these connections can run. Rebecca, an American woman who was introduced to Anisa through Peace of Thread’s mentoring program, sat by Anisa’s bedside for hours. Along with Denise, Rebecca prayed for Anisa and massaged her body with sweet-smelling oils. Caring for Anisa and her husband during this time was a daunting task. But because Rebecca was willing to be Anisa’s friend during this difficult time, she got to see God do a miracle. Now the two women are closer than ever.
Friendship is one of the cornerstones of humanity’s existence. It nourishes our souls in good times and sustains our spirits in hard ones. So it is a wonderful thing that we are able to be friends with all sorts of people. It is hard but very worthwhile to open our hearts to those who are different from us. We should never be afraid to befriend somebody because of the color of their skin, the clothes they wear, or the religion they claim. Instead, we should keep our hearts open to all people. Because who knows? The person who you can’t even imagine talking to just might become your next best friend.