When you open a dinner to all comers, cast a broad net over an identified audience, that means you must expect a broad spectrum of response. That was most certainly the case at a recent “you all come” dinner for the Muslim community in Columbia.
One of our honored guests was an exceedingly aged man from Russia, one who made a point of showing – with proof of documentation – that he was a chess champion, held a PhD in philosophy from a prestigious university in Moscow and was a professor. After explaining all this that audience expressed their appreciation with generous applause.
Our brother, however, had suffered a stroke and I suspect had some form of dementia as well. So at periodic intervals during the evening, sometimes right in the midst of discussion of questions by speaker or audience, he would rise, totter to the front and provide another rendition of what he had already shared. People were polite. And maybe a bit amused.
By about the fifth interruption he struggled to explain that the stroke had taken his words, especially his English ones. But he told a story from his father. He told us how his father, a pious Muslim, always insisted that their family read both the Koran and the Bible. Why? Because, he said, there is one God, one earth and one human family.
This capsule of truth was worth the wait, the interruptions and our occasional embarrassment for him. Some of the very best things in the world are not tidy, organized and planned. They often come as a mixed package, mixed blessings, as we say. The good comes with the bad and vice versa. And, like 49ers panning for gold, we sift through buckets of sand to obtain but an ounce of gold dust. It sometimes wears us out. But it’s worth it in the end.