Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 29: Goodwill

At sunset today I was in Shibuya-ku, at the Tokyo Camii (Tokyo Mosque) for the end of Ramadan. Three Japanese friends joined me, hoping to see people celebrating the start of Eid and the end of Peace Month. We stood on the beautiful porch of the mosque and greeted the worshipers as they finished their sunset prayer. Over 200 men slowly filed out, greeting each other and welcoming us. It was unclear, however, if Ramadan was over yet: at 9PM people would go outside and look for the new crescent moon - if it was spotted then Eid would begin, if it was overcast, then the declaration in Malaysia would be used. We were urged to join with others for a meal in the large assembly room downstairs, and found ourselves welcomed to share a meal with the spiritual leader and pleasant people of many nations. I felt some cross-cultural uncertainty (discussion was in Japanese, English & Arabic, among an energetic congregation eating heartily) but the stronger undercurrent was kindness, welcome, joy, and greeting. It was a highly-memorable meal, and for an hour or so I felt I'd suddenly traveled abroad. It was a time of substantive goodwill.

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