Saturday, January 06, 2007


The Wednesday before Thanksgiving last fall was cold and rainy. I was looking for a place to do the paper work from my last visit and pulled into the Community Mosque on Waughtown Street in Winston-Salem. The wind rocked my little Hybrid car and the rain ticked at the windows in a way that made me squint my eyes at the glass to see if maybe it was sleet. But it was cozy in there and I shut the car off, set up my laptop and clicked out a report while Aretha Franklin pelted out gospel on my CD player.
Some time later, as I snapped the computer shut, a car swung into the parking lot driven by a good sized man wearing the sort of skull cap on his head that made me think that he might be a member of the mosque. In times like these, it might be a good idea to check out strangers parked beside one’s mosque and I figured it would be smart to accommodate such security measures. I touched the button to roll the driver’s side window down. Nothing happened. I felt a little confused and reached for the ignition key to start the engine hoping the man wouldn’t get the idea that I was acting suspicious. Nothing happened and a little feeling of nausea accompanied the realization that I’d run the battery down and the car wouldn’t start.
I popped the door open and the man said, “Hi, having trouble?”
“Yea, I’m Ken Bradstock. I’m a hospice chaplain. I just pulled in here to write a report on my last visit and I think I ran my battery down.” He introduced himself and asked if I had jumper cables. When I said that I didn’t but would call Triple A, he said that another member was coming and he might have a set. He said that he’d pulled in to see who I was because they’d had some vandalism lately.
Another car pulled into the mosque, this one bearing a grinning man who jumped out and wrapped his arms around me. “Ken Bradstock. I was just talking about you this week!” It was my old friend, Kahalid Griggs. “Let’s go up in the mosque, man. It’s cold.”
I’d never been in this particular mosque and I stood at the door to the worship room, admired its simple beauty and felt a sense of the holy in that place. We talked for a short time and I dug my AAA card out of my wallet and turned to the door to get a good signal on my phone. “I guess I’ll call and get a jump, Kahalid,” I said.
“That’s alright, he’s got a set.” Kahalid pointed out the door and there was the first man carrying a brand new set of jumper cables through the wind and rain.
My mouth dropped open and I said, “Did he walk up to the Dollar Store and buy a set?”
Kahalid shrugged. “I guess he did.”
When my Hybrid purred to a start, I asked him what I owed him. “He grinned and said “Community Mosque is about service. You don’t owe me anything.”
As a hospice worker I’m usually on the giving side of these kinds of exchanges but as the cold rain stung my face, the kindness of those two men warmed my heart. I felt like we were together in a brotherhood of service. All I could do is thank them and that seemed to be enough.
When thousands of the members of this community thank the staff of hospice for our spirit of service and give so generously to keep us going, it’s enough. We need to serve you as much as you need us. It’s our calling. And just as those two generous followers of Mohammed offered service to this follower of Jesus, we find ourselves in a brotherhood of hospitality, generosity and service that makes our community rich above all material standards. It’s truly how the kingdom of God works.


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