Saturday, April 2, 2016

When we meet face to face

Joyce Sasse, Spiritual Gleanings

Two subjects my elderly friend avoided discussing were “religion” and “politics”. Too many arguments! But on a day when her health was most fragile, she found herself immersed in a conversation that covered both subjects.

While waiting to be transferred from the City (where she’d had open-heart surgery) to her home-town hospital, there was a ninety minutes wait between when the attendants arrived and when they were given permission to get on the road.

During that time my friend asked one driver about his family. Never had she come face-to-face with a black-skinned person who was Muslim and who came as a refugee. But she wanted to know more.

He spoke about how desperate things were in Uganda in 1972 when the new President, Idi Amin banished all Asians from his African nation. Lawyers’, doctors’, business owners’, and artists’ along with day-labourers’ and their families lives where endangered.

Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV
Photo Patrick Tsui/FCO, Wikimedia Commons 

Prince Karim Aga Khan, leader of the Ishmaili Muslims, turned to Canada for help. Pierre Trudeau responded by removing immigration barriers and sending cargo planes to help with the transfer of 7,000 persons. “You will be given an honourable place in our country” he told them.

“I had the honour of being part of that movement” the ambulance attendant explained. “And now I hope that my medical qualifications will soon by accepted in this country!”

As the story unfolded I saw a bonding between these two people from such extremely different backgrounds. My friend knew how vulnerable her medical condition was, but she saw this driver to be God’s gift and trusted herself completely into his care.

We panicked, that stormy day, when her arrival was later than expected … But the travelers has stopped for a coffee break. It was so good to get back home, and it was good to have made a new friend!

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