She knew that she really should get some work done, but the depression was thick today. Its fog clouded any chance of her being productive. She battled internally, trying her best to find a reason to get out of bed. Friday was always the worst.
It had been seven months since Covid-19 ran her into her house, locking the doors to the outside world and creating the perfect storm for her depression to rage. Today was a typical Friday. The week’s events were being replayed in her mind and the latest thing she’d done wrong was on a loop.
She was sitting in her bedroom where she had only managed to make up the bed. She was sitting on top of the covers trying to figure out how to get off the bed and into the shower.
It was noon when his voice traveled through the old windowpanes. At first, his Arabic prayer chant startled her. Part of her wanted to run to another room, and another part of her wanted to win the battle for God’s attention. She needed silence to get out of this fog. He insisted on singing to God. They both were singing to the God of Abraham, but who was right?
When she heard his solo voice, she assumed that the local church had resumed its rental operations and that he was one of the men who came each Friday for weekly prayer.
Before Covid-19, she watched them come and go, some in American outfits, some in traditional outfits, and some in a combination of both. She had gotten used to their collective voices. While she didn’t understand one word of Arabic, their prayers floated up to her bedroom, and usually, she was battling the fog.
Every time, she would feel startled then she would battle for God’s attention, but eventually, they would win. She would settle down into the rhythm of their voices for the hour that they were together. By then, she’d forgotten her depression. Afterward, she was able to leave her bedroom to shower, eat, and go about her day.
That Friday, when his lone voice pierced her cloud, she’d realized that she had come to rely upon the weekly intrusion by the men praying in Arabic. Friday was the one day when the cloud cleared long enough for her to see the sun shining outside or to enjoy the melody of raindrops on her window.
Like with the group, his lone voice was welcomed and once again she came to rely upon the battle for God’s attention to remind her that there was a God, even now that Covid-19 seemed to be winning the battle of life versus death
As time went on, she became used to the solo voice. She took him for granted and would be upset when he was not there beneath her window. She would wake up to the sounds of construction and just sit there waiting for him to come. When he didn’t for a month, she just assumed he was gone. Then she started to worry that maybe Covid-19 had won against his prayers. What if he needed someone to pray for him?
One Friday, she started to talk to God on her own instead of being provoked by her jealousy that the Muslims were praying more to God than she was. She started praying to God about her problems. She started praying to God about Covid-19. She started telling God why she’d left the church. She started praying to God about her family and friends whom she hadn’t seen in a long time.
She prayed to God about anything and everything until finally, she remembered why she’d started praying in the first place. She allowed herself to remember him and to care for him. She prayed to God for him, even though he was Muslim, and prayed in a language she didn’t understand. She didn’t pray for his soul to be saved from hell’s fire. She prayed that he was okay, that his family was okay, and that she would see him again. She didn’t know how he looked. She only heard his voice and never bothered to look out her window. She couldn’t describe him, but she still believed that she would know him when she saw him.
A few weeks later, she was sitting in her car after returning from her bi-monthly trip to the grocery store. She was wallowing in the latest hurt and reliving all the missteps she took in her entire life. Just as she was about to sink deeper into her depression, a homeless man appeared at the passenger window of her car.
As she tried to make out the words he was saying, she assumed he was looking for food. She didn’t have any. She also didn’t have any money to share. The dollars that she usually kept on her for her unhoused neighbors were dried up by the newest attack on the economy. She yelled through the window that she didn’t have any food or money. He didn’t understand her; so, he came to the driver’s side window to repeat his question.
She remained calm and determined not to be afraid or take offense. He did an eating gesture, and she yelled louder that she didn’t have any food. As she yelled, she zeroed in on the kufi covering his head. She stared at it as he kept begging for food. She couldn’t take her eyes off of it. She kept staring after he left her window and walked away. That’s when she noticed the thwab covered with a coat. As soon as she recognized him, like that, he was gone and so was her depression.
It was him, her prayer partner. As she came out of her daze, she remembered the verse, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2, NIV).