The most sacred moment of Lent had nothing to do with church.
It was instead in a Taekwondo studio as I slipped in to find a seat to watch my boys test for their next belt. I was on my own and found a few empty chairs in the back next to another mom who appeared to be alone. She gladly welcomed me into her row and we smiled our hellos.
As an introvert, it’s very easy for me just to find my space and keep to myself. But this woman was very friendly and she quickly struck up a conversation with me. She asked about my kids and which ones they were in the crowd. She told me about her son who was also testing tonite. And as all conversations go, we talked about how old they were, what grade they were in and where they went to school. She said her son was at home and did cyber school. She said he had been doing that for a few years now. I asked how that worked for them, I’m always curious about other school options. She said it worked well, she was happy having him at home. Maybe I should have just politely nodded and let it go, but I kept on asking questions. Turns out, her kids had been in local schools until two years ago, but things had become too hard.
“They would call my older son a terrorist,” she said.
“He would tell me, ‘Mom, it’s ok,it’s just a nickname,’ but I didn’t like it. It wasn’t ok.”
Something fell out of my mouth like , “no, no, that’s not ok.”
Because of her dress, I wondered if she was a Muslim and so I just asked. Yes, she smiled. She was.
And then our conversation went from how old our kids were, right to the pain of seeing our kids treated so badly, just because of who they are.
She shared about her visits to the school, asking for interfaith dialogue. She told me how little she knew about Christianity and how she was so open to hearing more, trying to connect with other people in the hopes that they could see their similarities instead of differences. She was not received well.
It was not what I was expecting to find as I had entered the studio that night. I just wanted a quiet space to hide away and watch my boys test. But instead, I found God in a conversation I wasn’t even looking for.
I am always amazed at what can happen when we keep our hearts open.
We had a wonderful conversation that evening, sharing about family, faith and everyday life. There was no agenda, just our stories.
The holy spaces are all around us, each and every day.
It’s ok if you don’t find them in church.