I am in Luang Probang, Loas, editing photos of the boy’s encounter with the groundskeeper at one of the oldest mosques in China when I learn of the bombings in Paris. Much as the attackers of 9/11 hijacked planes full of innocents, these terrorists are hijacking an entire religion.
We came upon this kindly old man in the mid-afternoon in a quiet courtyard. We had wandered in from the adjacent alley as he was making his way across the open space. He stopped and admired the boys. He asked about the cost of travel from America. We debated which was farther Mecca, or California. He told us of his family and his eleven great-grand-kids. Our boys asked him questions and we all laughed when he made it clear that Aleix was clearly too young for me, with her beautiful smile and my white beard.
He had never been on Haj (one of the five pillars of Islam) as the cost was too great. Other than his travels to Xian from his village he hadn’t traveled in China.
I cannot reconcile our encounter with this gentleman at a beautiful and serene spot with the mayhem that men who claim to share the same beliefs are inflicting everyday elsewhere in the world.