A Bridge

A scroungy pup about Spin’s size, no collar, walks across a busy street over to a car lot.  I pull in, unable to find a leash, I nevertheless go after him under the bridge over the river.  He’s in the shade, as if to say, stay here where it is cool.  I offer him a little food.  He’s rightfully wary.  After 20 minutes or so, I get up, and turn around to meet a thin man with a black bandage over one eye, a large bruise on his head, and wearing clothes that were too torn to be presentable.  He calls the dog “Rusty”, and says that he belongs to a guy in a wheelchair who hangs out here.

I come back a little later with a gallon of cold lemonade and a can of dog food.  He’s on the street working, flying a sign.  It’s over 100 degrees.  He looks frail, like he could easily be over 60.  He takes a sip from the container.  I ask him if there is anything I can do for him or the dog.  He pulls away – seasoned.  It’s too hot for people in his condition to be out like that.  He deserves freedom, and sanctuary, in a community that has this to offer.

100_3162The cows came by early this morning as I ran my dogs.  They grazed the grass which, with my lawn mower problems still not fixed, is getting high.  I remembered the neighbor’s kid’s warning that they might brush up against the young fruit trees, but, Indian-style, I respected their holiness, and let them be.  They left some presents for the trees.

Some Arabic words for fruit: apple, pear, orange, lemon, watermelon, grape, banana, strawberry, cherry, peach, mango, tomato.  (leemona, and keraz (cerise), menageois, tomaden are recognizable to me from other languages).  The only word I recognize a common root in with Hebrew is the word for grape (anab in Arabic, enab in Hebrew).  It’s an unusually foreign word (to English, German, French, maybe Spanish with b becoming v uva) for something that makes wine, prohibited in Muslim culture.  As an aside, it is interesting to consider how prohibition was successfully implemented in Islamic culture i.e. was there a former Arabic tradition that facilitated the prohibition?  The prohibition does not exist in Jewish, or Christian theology, although some Christian churches practice it.  In poetic old Hebrew, grapes are called “p’ri hagafen”, or fruit of the vine.  The word for grape in Arabic relates pretty easily to the word for berry.  It’s interesting because the Arab culture is known for its merchant culture (probably because of the sea coast geography), and therefore one would expect market items to cross cultures with their names intact.

And a little quiz to help learn them.  Some of the words are different from above (probably different dialects).  I’m at about a 28 second 100% right now.  I wish they would not have the numbers on the quiz, as the obvious short cut to a high score is to simply remember the number instead of reading the word.

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I struggle sometimes with the lack of tolerance among religions, noting the appearance of the alms-seeking after I attend services of different faiths.  They are no doubt “indulgences” in some faith traditions.  I still try to give cheerfully in spite of the punitive aspect to their appearance.  There is no doubt that they need this, and God gives me this opportunity to rise up to the occasion.

In the spirit of interfaith work, I offered a room in my trailer to a young Palestinian girl who needs medical care.  Separate room and bathroom.  No men or TV in the environment.  Knowledgeable about Muslim prayer and ritual needs.  Willing to pray together.  Vegetarian.  No smoking, drugs, or alcohol.  Quiet, educated, and interested in other cultures, languages, and interfaith dialogs.  Rural.  She might be the first Muslim in this community.  She needs a room for 8 weeks.  I can share my space.

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