The Shiite and the Lutheran

I press my forehead to the plastic window as the plane climbs over the Adirondacks. “It’s a beautiful day, beautiful weather,” he says, leaning forward to gaze over my shoulder.

We chat about the weather, the scenery, our final destinations. I’m returning to Nebraska from a visit to Massachusetts. He’s heading back to Detroit after spending the weekend at a religious conference.

“Oh, are you are a rabbi?” I ask. His accent sounds Middle Eastern. And the book open on the tray table in front of him looks like Hebrew to me. Earlier I had watched out of the corner of my eye as he turned pages back to front, highlighting passages in neon yellow from right to left.

He chuckles before answering, “No, I’m Muslim.” And then I apologize, embarrassed to have made such an awkward error. I realize, too late of course, that he isn’t even wearing a yarmulke.

...Click here to hop over to the Journal Star today to finish reading the rest of my column about this unique encounter en route from Massachusetts to Detroit...

Kathy Robbins –   – (November 2, 2011 at 6:16 AM)  

This is beautiful and informative. I didn't know that the Quaran mentioned Jesus either. I found you at The High Calling. Glad I did.

Mary Bonner  – (November 2, 2011 at 7:39 AM)  

What an awesome encounter!!  I think these things happen for a reason.  So glad you shared this story.

AliciaLourens –   – (November 2, 2011 at 8:25 AM)  

What a moment! I love that you didn't have your Better Homes and Gardens! We are all so closeminded and afraid when it comes to other religions- especially when we don't feel they are centered around Christ enough for us. What a great education for all of us on acceptance, love and that we really are all God's children. Thanks for sharing this!

Megan Willome  – (November 2, 2011 at 11:18 AM)  

Hey, Michelle. I loved, loved, loved this! I loved that the two of you talked. I love that you learned from each other. I love that it's you.

Denise Lieberknecht –   – (November 2, 2011 at 11:23 AM)  

Isn't it funny how we hope for divine encounters like this... and then when we're confronted with one, there's a momentary sense of panic!  I love that you were able to have a conversation with this man, that you both were open to dialogue with someone different. Thanks for sharing!

Diana Trautwein –   – (November 2, 2011 at 11:26 AM)  

Oh my, this was lovely to read. What a gift you were to each other - so glad it happened and so very glad indeed that you chose to write about it. Divine encounter? Yeah, I'd definitely say so. Terrific writing, Michelle. Thank you.

T.J.  – (November 2, 2011 at 11:34 AM)  

You taught me something- didn't realize Jesus showed up there-  And what a starcrossed story!!!

Linda  – (November 2, 2011 at 11:43 AM)  

Thanks so much for sharing this transforming story. Thanks for showing the rest of us how to live. Thanks for a rewarding read.


Michelle DeRusha  – (November 2, 2011 at 12:36 PM)  

Thanks, Megan. It was a great conversation - so much more even than I was able to capture for the article.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 2, 2011 at 12:37 PM)  

You got it: we are all God's children. It simply comes down to that, doesn't it? Thanks for your comment, Alicia.

Deidra  – (November 2, 2011 at 12:38 PM)  

Harry sat next to a Hindi minister (I'm sure I'm not using the correct term) on a f light from Detroit. They talked the entire way home, too. A couple of days later, Harry got an email from his seat-mate saying how grateful he was to have met Harry, and that it was the first time he'd ever felt heard and respected by a Christian. It sounds as if you and Muhammed each felt the same way.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 2, 2011 at 12:38 PM)  

I'm not usually a big supporter of the "it happened for a reason" school of thought, but when he suggested that at the end of our conversation, I had to agree. And I knew right away that the reason for me was that I needed to write about our exchange for a broader audience, which is why I chose to write this month's column on that experience.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 2, 2011 at 12:39 PM)  

I'm glad you found me at The High Calling too, Kathy -- isn't that a great spot? And I am so glad to meet you here!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 2, 2011 at 12:42 PM)  

Wow, those Detroit flights are divinely inspired! I can just see H chatting it up with his Hindi friend -- Harry is that kind of warm and inviting guy. On the other hand, isn't it a sad statement that it was the first time the Hindi man had felt both heard and respected by a Christian? There is something very wrong, and un-Jesus-like, about that.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 2, 2011 at 12:42 PM)  

And thanks for your lovely and encouraging comment, Linda!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 2, 2011 at 12:43 PM)  

I have to say, it was pretty cool. Thanks for stopping by TJ -- I hope you and that sweet babe are doing well!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 2, 2011 at 12:44 PM)  

You are right, Diana, it was a gift indeed. And thanks for your comment here, lovely friend.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 2, 2011 at 12:45 PM)  

I totally panicked! I wanted to throw the book on the ground and say, "What? Who me? Oh that's nothing. I'm not actually reading that!"

Stacy S. Jensen  – (November 2, 2011 at 1:25 PM)  

I love meeting people. We learn so much by just talking to one another.

Jean Wise  – (November 2, 2011 at 1:29 PM)  

wow I didn't know that about the Qu'am either. Interesting and  yes we do have more in common than most of us realize.  Fascinating that other don't seem so fearful once we really get to know them.  Great lesson here, Michelle. 

Duane Scott  – (November 2, 2011 at 1:47 PM)  

I couldn't comment over there, but I love this post. 

There is always a reason, Michelle. :) 

Gaby  – (November 2, 2011 at 9:10 PM)  

That is the coolest story I've heard in a long time. Who knows what kind of seeds you planted that day for the gospel with your loving, accepting attitude. Divine appointment, indeed!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 2, 2011 at 9:42 PM)  

Thanks, Duane. Appreciate your comment here (and I loved your post today, by the way).

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 2, 2011 at 9:44 PM)  

I know what you mean. Usually on an airplane I get out my book or magazine right away as a signal to my seatmate that I am not a talker. I did that in this case, too, but the man didn't take the hint -- and I was glad in the end!

Duane Scott  – (November 2, 2011 at 9:45 PM)  

That's so kind of you. I've been missing from blogosphere and now I'm back. Was SO good to read something by you again. :)

Duane Scott

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 2, 2011 at 9:45 PM)  

You are so right, Jean -- most of our opinions or preconceptions of people are based in fear or ignorance. All it takes is a little connection for the common humanity to shine through.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 2, 2011 at 9:45 PM)  

Thanks, Gaby -- I am always so happy to see you here!

Lori@Myevidentfaith –   – (November 3, 2011 at 7:39 PM)  

Michelle, what a fantastic story, you tell it so well - and what a great experience.  Just beautiful.  ~Lori

Kim Turnage –   – (November 5, 2011 at 11:49 PM)  

Oh, Michelle. I'm in tears reading this. It's beautifully written. And I can't help but think that only a few years ago you would NEVER have had such an amazing conversation -- and NOT just because you wouldn't have been reading Shane Claiborne! Miss you!

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