Proudly posting a photo and accompanying words that my son Steve wrote on Facebook a couple of days ago.
PHOTO AND WORDS BY MY SON STEVEN:
This is a photo of today, in our Aotearoa, in Christchurch’s Port Hills.
Immediately after I took this photo a car pulled up and a group of people got out dressed in Muslim tunics, hijab and kufi hats.
We smiled to each other and exchanged niceties about the view. Then we stood there in silence… a silence broken by the brother in a kufi hat asking me about my bike ride. He asked me about my bike, asked me where I was heading. I told him. He made a connection.
I asked about their day, what they were doing. He told me that, with his family and friends, he had come from the North Island to visit the Masjid Al Noor mosque, the sanctuary that had been hijacked and thrown into unfathomable tragedy a week ago. He was solemn when he spoke, a pall of grief all but visible on his shoulders. But he spoke with a calmness that inspired me to attempt the only Arabic I know: As-salamu alaykum. The brother smiled and politely corrected my pronunciation. As-salamu alaykum. Peace be upon you.
After that we looked out at the view together. We shared that moment. There has to be peace now, he said.
Now, I know that if this atrocity had not occurred, the brother and I would not have had this chance to connect. Would we have made the same connection if we had met without the events of last week? That is beyond the beyonds. That is not for me to know. All I can do is trust.
I can only trust that there is always good to emerge from bad. I can only believe there is a deep seated decency in people of all walks of life, and that the one fragment of light shining through the darkness that shattered our peace last week is the light that will connect people of Aotearoa with each other. Peace be upon us.