A friend of mine just told me about a knotty family problem she had been struggling with for years. At the heart of it of course was two people who didn't get along, hurt feelings, a quarrel, busy lives, resentment, and then eventually disenchantment, disappointment, and living with the status quo. Except, that somewhere, there was always - no matter how faint or how invisible it seemed - hope. Not hope in the people involved, or a solution - she absolutely couldn't see one. But in her hour of desperation, there was prayer, and in prayer, there was hope.
One only tells this kind of story when something turns, of course. What's to tell if nothing has changed? So yes, my friend had her rock bottom moments, her prayers of utter desperation and then - her miracle: the moment when all of a sudden, someone eventually came around, had a change of heart. And out of so much gloom there was suddenly: sparkles, light, happiness.
On the outside, nothing had changed. The people of the house went and came as usual. Milk was bought, children were fed, presentations were sent to clients, phone calls were attended to. But everything had changed, hadn't it. Old resentments vanquished, old bonds reestablished, the people of the house had peace. With prayer, with hope, with patient trying, with worrying, with crying in the night, with loving, with watching, she had changed it all.
It is maybe unfashionable to tell this kind of story about women any more. The new women, they are warriors and they conquer the world. Indeed, they do. My grandmother had many formidable accomplishments and qualifications. She went to college when few others of her generation did, and taught me many skills. They are all useful, but...but, is it wrong if I say it - they are not what make me miss her until my heart breaks. All I miss is how she loved me, and her unshakeable faith in anything I did. We all have a woman like that in our homes, without whose love, tender or tough, life is unimaginable.
It may not be the fashionable story to tell, it doesn't get reported in the newspapers, it's not as glamorous as money, as ringing the bell in the stock market. But these stories, the ones that play out in a woman's arms, her lap, her gaze, her thoughts, her careful planning...here also, is life. And here also is power, an undeniable power. Here we are now, those women, those very same women, 12,000 of us now and more joining every day, hands together, hearts together, heads together. We have run our households for years and watched and loved and petted and scolded and earned, alertly, intelligently, diligently, formidably, knowingly, let no one say otherwise. We, the beating hearts and watching brains of our households, administering scoldings, giving out advice, an eye and ear on the individual growth and struggles of every person in the house, we who hold our families' hearts and lives together, we see life as it unfolds, better than anyone else and though we take the credit for the work we do, we have figured out how this really works. We whisper these stories to each other, because at the end of the day these are not the words modern women are allowed to say. We are a religious community and we believe in prayer. Day after day, night after night, its awesome power changes our lives.
With the heartbreaking events around the world, Islamophobic rhetoric has become a part of all our lives, something we must deal with daily, shrieks about brutal Islam. But we will assert what we know to be true. Our faith saves us. The evidence is all of us, standing right here. Faith is hope. Faith is love. Faith is life. In this most religious of countries, we are here to defend our right to live by it.