Standing in a Shattered Mosque

 

Last Sunday, I visited the Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec City, the mosque where exactly one week earlier a Quebec man ran in and killed six Muslim men. The Sunday School at a church I was visiting had made a poster they wanted to give to the mosque as a gift of love. The leader of the Sunday School invited anyone who was interested to join her as she presented it to them. I jumped at the opportunity.

While most people I knew had been horrified by the shooting, I’d seen little to no reaction from the Christians I knew towards this atrocity. I was puzzled and confused by this. The shock of the event left most people feeling numb and uncomfortable. They had no idea of how to respond.

But here was a church that was willing to step out and do something. I was pleased to join them.

My heart and mind were not prepared for what I was about to see. As we walked into the mosque, I started feeling uncomfortable, even afraid. We were strangers, marching into their holy place. I quickly covered my head out of respect for the people we were visiting, questioning every move I made. A man thanked me for coming, and I nodded my head at him, though my eyes were mostly directed at the floor. Some of the walls still had traces of blood dripping down them.

We left the mosque and gathered outside to pray, then went our separate ways.

As I waited at the bus stop, a thought hit me.

Those men just watched their friends die.

Standing in a Shattered Mosque - Flowers outside the Islamic Cultural CentreIt wasn’t until that moment that the reality of their pain struck me. I started to cry. I hadn’t been ready to offer sympathy to those men. I hadn’t had an inkling of their grief. How could I? How could I grasp the horror of what they had faced? How could I offer anything, even love? I was so consumed by my own discomfort that I’d never considered what they were facing. I hadn’t known how.
I’m not happy with what we did that day. I went to see their horrors as a tourist and offered nothing in return. But without that visit, I would never have never been able to come to this place of understanding.

I do not comprehend their pain. I can’t. But today I am a little closer than I was last Sunday. Today I have a little more empathy. I can begin to grieve over the terror that these people lived through. I have also faced my own failure to love these people as I should.

This post was shared on the Grace and Truth Link-Up.

Standing in a Shattered Mosque

Photo credit: CBC

4 Comments on “Standing in a Shattered Mosque

  1. “A man thanked me for coming…”
    Are you sure you went there only as a tourist? It looks like you were an ambassador.
    You were led there not only for what you would do, but for what the experience would do for you. So much learning.
    “I started to cry.”

    • I realize today that I didn’t go there with the right intentions. I didn’t go to be an ambassador. But today, maybe I could be.

  2. I appreciated reading about your experience. It made me think of something that my pastor says often, about the need to be being willing to “enter into the pain of others” in order to love them well. I see what you did here, as that. That must have been hard.
    Thank you for linking with Grace and Truth last week.

    • Thanks so much for coming by, Dawn. I totally agree with your pastor. Until we are willing to move into that space, a strange and frightening space, I don’t think we’re able to love anyone, no matter who they are. This story is only one example. The beautiful thing has been to watch what God has been doing after this event as I’ve met with other Christians and Muslims. I don’t believe that God is finished with this story yet.

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