Yesterday at the newspaper I interviewed a newly-married couple for an article, and was enchanted with them both. Their story is so appropriate to the spirit of Christmas that tonight is the perfect time to share it with you!
I’m working on the Bridal Guide that the newspaper will distribute next month. I do almost all of the research and writing for this piece, so it occupies a lot of my brain for most of a month.
Last week a wedding announcement crossed my desk that caught my attention – the bride’s name is “Stein.” It’s not often that you see such a solid Jewish name in these parts, so it was enough to pique my interest. And then I noticed the groom’s name – “Siddiqui.” I didn’t even have to read the rest of the page to know this was about to get interesting.
The wedding announcement mentioned that they incorporated bits of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in their ceremony, and that they now live in a Sufi community.
On Monday I spoke with them on the phone. They completely charmed me and seem like two really genuine people.
It turns out the bride’s family didn’t have a problem with her interfaith marriage (as some Jewish families would), because her mother is Christian and her father is Jewish. They raised their daughter in both traditions.
The bride then went on her own cultural and religious journey and found her place within Islam. Specifically, she has settled within the Sufi community (as I understand it, Sufism is the practice of Islamic mysticism, much like Kabbalah is the study of Judaic mysticism.)
Their wedding brought together members of the Sufi community from around the globe (they mentioned that revelers came from as far away as India, Africa, and Asia) with the salt-of-the-earth Vermonters that one finds in our region. The husband said that his favorite compliment was that despite everyone’s different backgrounds and traditions, the celebration all felt like one big family.
I can’t help but think that’s the true meaning of this holiday season, regardless of the religion or tradition we grew up in. It’s about celebrating with our community, no matter where they’re from. It’s about seeing people as individuals, rather than as a representation of a religion, a race, or a cause. It’s about opening our minds and our hearts to include everyone, not just the people we agree with.
To Leona and Hasan, may your marriage be blessed and may you live a long and happy life together. May you stand as a demonstration of what is possible to the rest of us.
To everyone else – merry Christmas and may all of your holiday wishes come true.
Today’s miracle: There’s always room at the Inn.
Image found here.