Friday, May 16, 2014

Muslim Student Association dinner

Tonight I went to an amazing dinner/event with the Muslim Student Association at my university. We started with just talking for a while, and about half an hour in dinner was served from a local Indian restaurant. The people I was sitting with were extremely kind, and the featured people were amazing. The first presenters were some Sufi dancers from Seattle who sang and danced, which was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The second presenter was a graduate of my school who sang some pleasant rap with Islamic themes of serving your community, looking to God for help, etc.

The third was a speaker who graduated from my school a few years ago and he talked about what it means to be Muslim, about faith in action, serving your neighbors, and some examples. He talked about some Muslims who were going to Mosque to break the fast during Ramadan who saw a poor man outside and they talked to him about Muhammad. After hearing about his situation they fed him before they broke their fast and when the Imam came to Mosque the starving man (who apparently knew nothing about Islam before that day) told him how much he loved Muhammad. Another example was about washing his feet which once presented an awkward moment in a private restroom when he was using a public sink to clean his feet (which is required in Islam) and someone else washed his hands after using the bathroom next to him, and not a word was spoken between them. Another time he was washing his feet and a TSA agent came in... he's ok, don't worry. He was an amazing speaker. The message that Islam teaches peace (which is true) and in serving your neighbor is something all religious people agree on.

All in all a wonderful conference with some wonderful people.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Spring UU PNWD YA Con

So, this weekend has been one of the best weekends I've had for a very long time, that is because it was the seasonal Young Adult Con for UUs here in Bellingham where I go to school!

Like the last con I went to, the people were absolutely wonderful and fun to talk with and do things with. I played Cards Against Humanity, helped in the kitchen, and many other things.

Friday: We got together starting around 5:00 and had dinner made by one of my friends who I finally got to meet, who is an absolutely marvelous cook. We had a small worship service and the theme was about communication, making sure that people can understand what we are saying, given the amount we talk and the common UU habit of being extremely intelligent, clearly honest, and vocal while still attempting to be respectful and open to others while not letting our guard down and compromising our values which for me explains why we have so many famous famous humanitarians in our religion despite our size. The speaker would say something that sounded really different from what she/he meant so we could be aware of speaking clearly which at times when I am speaking, though not so much when I am writing, is something I can personally struggle with. We stayed up until 2 AM which is normal for these sorts of events.

Saturday: We had breakfast which was the most amazing omelette I have ever eaten. The first event was getting into our touch groups which were set up so we can discuss certain prompts to help understand the theme of the con, and we finished very early, so we talked about another issue that kept us going full speed ahead until it was time to gather back together. We have the same touch groups through the con so we can get to know people we don't frequently see at a deeper level and have a deeper dialogue, my group had 6 people total. We then had our first workshop for which I chose to go to an environmental sustainability workshop which was really fun discussing with a UU who traveled from Montreal to start to build a large network of young UUs who want to help the environment. There were only 4 of us in that workshop, and it was very fun to lay out what we can and should do to successfully move the world to a sustainable future very different from what we are currently doing. The second workshop I attended was looking at several readings by different philosophers and discussing their writings on how to successfully communicate ideas to people transcending cultural, economical, and political boundaries. Being a very political group of people this was very interesting and important. After that, there was a lot of free time in which I played Cards Against Humanity and briefly played some Magic the Gathering before the worship service. The worship service was normal for UUism, starting with some opening words, lighting the chalice, as well as joys and concerns while the leader speaks about whatever she wants to talk about (in this case, a she). She talked about holding our values close while spreading words of freedom and justice around our lives, and being open to people. This is what it truly means to be UU and no one could have said it as eloquently as she did. I totally agree that there is no respect, rhyme, or reason to not being clear with other people and personally following the wisdom of treat others how you wish to be treated, that it is rude. I don't like being lied to and I shouldn't do it to other people. This is why Unitarians are so successful at making monumental change across the nation and world despite our small numbers. We are honest to people and by sticking by our guns while still being open to others we have done the impossible and we will do it again. Thinking of what we have done, what we do and the true meaning of true trust and love that comes with our journey made me feel so whole and complete that when she asked for us to write down one joy, one concern, and one other thing which escapes me I couldn't think of any concern which was such a wonderful feeling. That is why I go to Con and surround myself with people like UUs, because they allow me to see the best in humanity and make me feel whole.
This was followed after a break with the highlight of Con, the Talent/No Talent show where we entertain each other with music and prose. I played America from Westside Story on my trumpet and got a huge applause for my solo, just like last time. It was fun hearing stories and other types of music, including an extremely hilarious song about banjos where we all laughed, and one guy who told a true story of meeting a creeper on a bus wearing a gigantic sombrero trying to give him a strange soap. We had a wonderful time and didn't disappoint.

Sunday, today: We were woken up by one of our chaplains, who is also one of my best friends, playing the banjo so we would be up before people came to church. We had breakfast, packed up. Four of us who live in Bellingham stayed for the service and the rest went out to lunch which looked really fun. I was really torn about my decision but since the service today was about the Beatles and the last time I will hear our interim minister talk I decided to stay.

All in all, it was an absolutely wonderful con and I will never forget it.