Family

A Story of Three Women

Three Women drink tea in the morning
Each on their own Terraces
Secure within their walls
They offer the daily morning wave

The Elder, the Middle, the Younger
Careful not to offend
They talk each day
Across a Chasm filled with white still Fog

One day things changed
A breeze stirred the Fog
A path was revealed leading
Into a place of uncertainty

The women looked down, pointing
Each looked at the other and
Moved to the path
Down into the swirling Fog

Lost … calling … WHERE ARE YOU?
Questions of the journey
ARE YOU THERE?
Is it right for us to meet?

The Fog lightens revealing
A space with light and three chairs
The women emerge
The Elder, The Middle, The Younger

Now what do we do?
I don’t know your name
Hannah … Mary … Mary
Smiles, the stories begin

Discovery, sisters all
Lost in time
Grown apart
Yet family still

I know your story!
I know your son!
I know your grandfather!
Family still

High on a hill
Three empty terraces sit
The sun still shines there
The tea still served, waiting

Three Women
The Elder, Hannah
The Middle, Mary
The younger, Mary

Walk hand in hand
Back into the Fog
Back into the uncertainty
Back to ask more questions

©Ruth Jewell, December 3, 2009, written for a class titled from Abraham to Mohammad  

Advent has begun, it is the time of expectations.  This is a time when small children excitedly wait for that magical moment on Christmas morning when they discover the gifts left by Santa Clause.   Yet there is more to Advent than shopping trips to the mall or preparing a big family dinner.  I wrote the above poem at the close of a class that went through the scriptural history of our Judeo, Christian and Islamic traditions and as a result discovered just how much alike we three sibling religious traditions are.  I think it is because we share so much history that we continue to fight over details just as any family of brothers and sisters do.

Did you know that Hannah’s story is much like the story of the birth of Mary as told in the Infancy Gospel of James written in the 2nd century?  Did you also know that The Qur’an also retells the birth of Mary with a story very close to what is said in James’ Infancy Gospel?  Hannah, Mary from the Christian tradition and Mary from the Islamic tradition are sisters, or maybe mothers and daughters, of our shared faith.  Mary is the most honored woman in The Qur’an, even more so than in our own Christian traditions.

We three faiths are related as People of the Book, of the Bible.  Our shared history is more than simply battles fought to get the attention of the Creator, we are family.  The scriptural blood that flows through my spiritual veins and pushed around by my spiritual heart is the same blood and same heart as my Judaic and Islamic brothers and sisters.  Christians are the middle spiritual child and our older spiritual brothers and sisters have much to teach us about God’s commitment to all of creation, just as we have much to teach our younger spiritual brothers and sisters about the love and compassion of God.

My heart aches because each of us spiritual children seems to only want to compete with the others.  So every Advent I offer prayers that we three family members will sit down and share a cup of tea and take the time to offer apologies and forgiveness.  Because we three siblings have much to teach and offer the whole world, not as the only right paths to God but rather as models of cooperation in showing all paths lead to God no matter what path we take.  All paths are sacred.

I have a pot of tea brewing and a plate of shortbread cookies.  So I invite you to a time of tea in the fog uncertainty.  Let’s begin a conversation that could just change the world.

©Ruth Jewell, December 5, 2012

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