Interfaith Voices. I hear them. They speak to me, quietly and gently and sometimes, loudly and fiercely.
I hear Jesus. My father, a professional writer, often quoted Jesus in casual conversations. Jesus, the wise man, not Jesus the savior. So I probably heard Jesus’ wise words from a very early age.
I hear Islamic voices. I am 7 or 8. We visit a mosque in Washington D.C. We take off our shoes and walk into the huge prayer hall. The people are facing one direction, some on knees and bowing deep. My father says something about facing east and prayer and Mecca. Even today, I see the prayer hall and feel the reverence.
I hear Christian voices. My parents drop me and my sister off at the neighborhood Presbyterian Sunday school, but they don’t attend the service. I have little memory of this but I have a special gift, a Bible presented to me by my father on Oct. 23, 1954. My father’s gift of words from Jesus continues.
And Jewish voices. Many of my parent’s friends were Jewish: the pediatricians, the dentist, many of their newspaper colleagues. Years after graduation, I read the names in my high school yearbook and wonder if my lack of interest in school activities was because most of the “popular” kids were Jewish. They were the “smart” kids, too. However, as a member of the “out” crowd, I have no recollection of being teased, ignored, shunned, disliked, or discounted, as often happens in high school. Perhaps this is why I have a fondness for Jewish people.