You never know where a blessing can come from

My mother always said you never know where a khair (blessing) can come from so be open to everyone. As is her custom she would teach me these important life lessons with a short moral story. This story in particular involved a husband and a wife of meager means. One night they had a visitor. The visitor knocked on the door. It was the husband, who stood up to answer the call, but before he opened the door, the wife asked the husband, who it was that was at the door. The husband replied it was so and so. Upon hearing this, the wife asked her husband to ignore the visitor and not open the door. The husband obliged his wife’s wishes and the visitor left when no one would open the door. It is said the visitor had glad-tidings for the family and had they opened the door for him, the family would have inherited riches, a great blessing, which would have made the rest of their life one of ease.

And thus, my mother said, one doesn’t know where a blessing will come from and who is carrying that blessing for you so be open my dear. She also said, you never know where shar (misfortune) can come from so keep your eyes open too. I understood this to also mean what or who seems to be honey, can really be rather poisonous. And what looks harmful can turn out to be sweet honey.

I am sure many of us have had such experiences and how enlightening it is or sometimes heartbreaking when what we saw or thought was the truth wasn’t the actual reality. I had many such experiences, both done by me and done to me.

One experience done by me, which still sticks in my mind, because it is rather silly and of course for my personal life journey it remains a reminder for me to always look beyond what is apparent. In high school part of our graduation curriculum included that we take computer courses. I remember going through the course packet looking through all the classes to pick for the following semester. My criteria for taking these electives was not for the purpose of education or to gain skills, but to simply take any computer class that was not being taught by Mrs. Davidson. It is important to note computers were just coming of age in the early 2000s when I was starting HS and I practically didn’t know anything about technology nor had much interest. I loved science, history, and English, not computers.

Only a handful of teachers taught many of the computer courses available at my school so I picked the ones that were not being taught by the “mean-looking Mrs. Davidson.” My buddy and I were in the same boat. We saw Mrs. Davidson in the school hallways and she did not look like someone we were going to survive. We judged her as not being nice and she scared us so we avoided her courses. As destiny would have it, the following semester reporting for duty for my database class, guess who is the teacher?

Mrs. Davidson and not the teacher whose name I don’t even remember now. Mrs. Davidson took over the course for the other teacher, who had gone on leave or something. My friend and I were shocked. After this shock wore off, we plotted to change courses, but were unsuccessful. Not wanting to spend a semester in Mrs. Davidson’s class, my friend dropped the course. I stayed with it, because I didn’t want to fall behind on my courses or take a summer course. It was one of the best decisions that I made in HS and Mrs. Davidson’s impact on my life I still benefit from now and will do so forever. Remember as I’ve said, I was very illiterate almost in computers and technology. Her teaching style, her encouragement, and high expectations not only made me computer literate, but helped me excel in other courses. She became my favorite teacher ever and I her favorite student. She nominated me out of all the classes she taught as her student to represent the school. The teacher whose class I plotted to avoid, I would end up taking her other advanced computers courses that I didn’t even need. She was an amazing teacher, who unlocked my potential and love of learning of challenging subjects that I didn’t find interesting, and pushed me to be better. I can write in great length about Mrs. Davidson. I am grateful to her not just for making me a better student in the classroom, but a better student of life. Thank you Mrs. Davidson.

My mother’s saying was right. We simply don’t know where a blessing can come. That is just one experience of many for me.

And one such experience that was done to me and what sparked this entry down memory lane, happened today. I was at the gas station. A very busy gas station, in which cars were in line to pump gas. Around the same time that it was my turn to pump at my station, two young white guys pushed their car to the station diagonally across from the station I was at. They had run out of gas. Both were wearing baseball caps, white sneakers, and baggy t-shirts/pants. The more active one of the two begin to ask people for money and he didn’t ask in a polite sort of way. It was more:, “Hey you got some change.” The middle-aged white guy next to my station shook his head no almost in disgust. Undeterred the guy goes on to ask other people at the station, one by one. Well, everyone except me. I even looked towards his direction to see if he would ask me for help. He didn’t and walked across to the other side to ask.

Now I was fascinated by this. I follow the school of thought, which says give folks the benefit of the doubt. I don’t like to rush to assumptions and when I do, I try to check myself. But there I was thinking about it and I couldn’t come to any conclusion, apart from me being a visible Muslim. That was the only thing that separated me from the other diverse/mixed race crowd at the pump. Only one guy gave him a bunch of coins. No one else helped the young man for the few minutes this was ongoing. Maybe they had looked at him, judged him and saw a no good, lost child. It is possible.

I just went inside my car, in case he came back to my side and asked for my help at last. That would be testing my principles you see. Because if that had occurred and I refused to help him knowing I could or did help while also letting him hear a piece of my mind then it would be about my ego and kindness to another human being shouldn’t involve the ego is what I’ve always told myself. I guess I didn’t want to be tested. I am not a Prophet or a Monk. I do have selfish feelings. And who knows, maybe that young man saw a Muslim woman and he thought he was a man so he didn’t want to burden me for my own benefit. So not asking me was rather a favor he had bestowed upon me in his eyes. It is possible. But I certainly would have been the one to give him actual dollar bills.

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