This piece was originally posted here recently on Open Salon. The author, Nancee Lundeen, is referring to Dar Al Farooq Community Center in Minneapolis. She graciously accepted that we repost her piece on Engage Minnesota.
By Nancee Lundeen
Last night, near the southeast campus of the University of Minnesota, my college-age daughter prepared to move out of her little apartment and into a house with roomates a few blocks away. I took kitchen detail and scrubbed places that hadn’t been scrubbed in a long time.
My daughter’s friend with a truck had already moved the furniture and I packed the remaining boxes with kitchen items worth keeping and hauled them out to my car in the parking lot behind the apartment building.
Other movers scurried back and forth from their apartments to the dumpster on the far side of the parking lot.
“Somebody left a big couch by the dumpster!” I reported to my daughter as she loaded up her car.
“So? What’s wrong with that?” She snarled, heading back to her apartment, not interested in an answer.
Ah youth, unschooled in refuse protocol, I thought, knowing the dirty beige couch would sit under the elm tree by the dumster until someone gave it a proper burial.
I paused in the humid heat and leaned against my car, my shirt damp with sweat. I reflected on this chapter of my daughter’s life. She’d outgrown her tiny apartment and was no longer satisfied to be away from home for its own sake.
And then I heard singing. It seemed to come from beyond the back of the parking lot. The street lamps did not illuminate far enough on this night for me to see beyond the end of the lot. But I had heard the one-story brick building with its fenced playground housed an Islamic community center.
I stood there and listened. The exquisite beauty of the voice took my breath away. I could not understand the words but my heart knew this language.
I realized he was singing a call to prayer inside the little mosque in the community center.
The plaintive, glorious song rose over the wind that whipped through the elm on the edge of the lot.
Wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name….. I remembered from my childhood lessons.
I did not think anyone would mind if I joined them in prayer and the asphalt parking lot with the dumpster and the beige couch became for a few moments, my tabernacle.
I thought of the proposed community center and mosque in New York and wondered just whose God deserves a place near hallowed ground.
I watched the elm leaves caught by the breeze dance in exultation in the street light.
They appeared to have been invited to perform for the one energy, one love, one spirit, of many different names, that opened my heart and sang to my soul, last night, in Minneapolis.