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Scene and Heard

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  • Scene and Heard

    November 27, 2006

    Life is composed of accidental moments. They are glimpses of who we are and where we live.

    A Surprise Request

    I already was in a bad humor as I watched the taxi meter click away on my trip home from Dulles one recent Sunday afternoon. My bag had gone astray on the way home from South Carolina.

    I read the notice about the increase in fares to $2.80 for the first quarter-mile and wondered if the decrease in gas prices would reverse the fare hike.

    My driver apologized after receiving a call on his cellphone. I asked him what language he spoke, and he replied "Urdu, or a branch of Urdu called Punjabi."

    He explained that Punjab is located between Pakistan and India and was divided in half. He was from the half that went with Pakistan at the time of the great division. Later, he got another phone call -- "the wife," he said. And we both acknowledged that he had to take that call. When we turned on to the Clara Barton Parkway, I asked him if he knew who Clara Barton was. He didn't, so I told him what I knew about her. He had a couple of questions about her that I couldn't answer, and that ended our conversation.

    After we pulled up to my house and I paid him, he popped the trunk. I asked why he opened the trunk because I didn't have any bags. He replied by asking if he could use a corner of my drive to say his prayers.

    I was surprised, but even an agnostic, which I am, would not deny a person a place to pray. He spread his rug, faced east and began to pray. I observed him from the house. First he stood and then he kneeled, and I was surprised at how touched I was.

    It seemed like such a formal but human thing to do, and right on my driveway. I was very proud that he trusted me to ask and that I trusted him and gave my permission. My experience that evening seemed so starkly different from what I hear on the news each day.

    -- Lee Gough, Bethesda


    Unabashedly Giving Thanks

    My husband and I stopped for breakfast at a fast-food restaurant recently at daybreak on our way to Texas to visit our son and family.

    I was idly people-watching when a 40-something man and his son came in. They were just ordinary folks. But when they sat down to eat, they became extraordinary in my eyes.

    The father led them in a prayer: not a short "God is great, God is good" type prayer, but a lengthy one. I couldn't hear it, but I saw they were not embarrassed to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving.

    The young man didn't do what I've seen many other young folks do. He kept his eyes shut and appeared to be involved in the prayer. That simple act brought tears to my eyes, and I in turn offered up my own prayer of thanksgiving. Thankful that we live in a country where prayer in a public restaurant is accepted, thankful that the man had enough conviction to publicly lead his son in prayer and that the son was willing to follow his father. A moment in time, forever in my heart and soul.

    -- Betty Ferguson, Alexandria

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