Sarah-Mae Thomas’ piece on The Convivencia touches on the kind of coexistence we’ve failed to achieve in these modern times. Her piece is a critical approach to this “too-good-to-be-true” period of history when Muslims, Christians, and Jews were able to establish a relatively successful civilization of peaceful coexistence in Andalusia. It was a period when none were forced to emigrate from Spain, and Muslim immigrants from North Africa fused harmoniously with the local Christian and Jewish populations.
In fact, from a cosmological perspective, since Adam and Eve had to leave our eternal home, we are all immigrants. Gülen once wrote “Towards the Lost Paradise,” dreaming of generations to come who would be adorned with the values and virtues that would entitle them to once again regain entry to that garden. The secret to this entitlement, he says in the lead article, is mastering time, and utilizing it as our most precious value.
Katharine Branning felt the deep and eternal yearning of an immigrant when she visited the eight-century old Cathedral of Chartres in France. On her pilgrimage, she walked this monumental place of worship’s famous labyrinth. Katharine’s engagement with the labyrinth reads like an antidote to an immigrant in a foreign land. She overcame her apprehension by taking “slow and deliberate steps.” “This was no race,” she told herself, “there would be no tricks, no teasing decisions to be made, and no one would judge [her] performance.” Her inner voice said that she “just needed to surrender [herself] to the path, and accept the insights it would give [her].” As she navigates the labyrinth, Katharine’s wide and deep inner reflections encompass our diverse journeys of faith and self-discovery, as we immigrate between the centers and peripheries of our human condition.