Yesterday, I flew from my college town to my hometown, hopping through Dallas. This took only six hours.
When I got to Dallas, reoriented myself to which terminal I needed to find, and ate lunch, I sat down by a window to read “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. Only partially interested in the book, my mind flitted in and out of trying to take in the words.
Then, an announcement came over the entire D section of the airport. A female voice invited anyone who so wished to could come to the section chapel for prayers. The service would begin in a few minutes and would end in half of an hour, a few minutes from when my plane boarded.
I thought to myself, “There is no way I am passing this up. The book can wait for the plane.” I picked up my bag, purse, and coat and set off for the announced location of the chapel, carefully noting how long it took me to get there so I could time my return.
This being an international airport, I had supposed that the service would have interfaith components and was very interested in seeing how the airport would try to be politically correct in this manner.
As I walked into the small room, there were already two men knelt down on the carpet, praying, so I knelt as well, along the back wall. I bowed my head and prayed for a few minutes, when another man entered. He also had a Middle-Eastern complexion, complete with a long black beard and dark eyebrows. He was apparently the small group leader of what became increasingly clear to be a MUSLIM prayer service. After two more men came (also Middle-Eastern), he began to recite the opening prayers in Arabic.
He began to give the meeting’s devotion, which was focused on the fact that it was the new year’s day of the Islamic calendar (the year 1431). He encouraged his brothers to be more deliberate in saying their prayers, reading through the Quaran, asking the forgiveness of Allah, and building their family relationships. It was like our New Year’s resolutions.
It was only halfway through the sermon that I had noticed that everyone else had removed their shoes and left their bags at the door.When he finished his sermon, all of what had become fifteen men and one older women stood to their feet to finish their prayers. In Arabic. Complete with bowing to the ground and rising and singing. In Arabic.
Afterwards, the woman very kindly asked me if I wanted to talk or had any questions. I thanked her but declined, knowing that my plane was leaving soon. I briskly returned to my terminal and only waited two minutes before my boarding group was called and I was on the plane headed home. And I read my book.