I have a wonderful friend named Lily Bakour. Lily is an exemplary person, by no better description, radiant, carrying in her a happiness and positivity that is truly rare. This Friday, Lily invited me over for dinner with her family, who observes Ramadan, a celebration with which I was familiar, but never truly understood.
Walking into Lily's home, I was first greeted by some of her family and a family friend, who sat at the dinner table preparing ingredients for dinner (homemade pizza). Lily walked me into her room, which she shares with her two sisters. As they later started filing into the house, I soon learned they were all very close. In fact, Lily is close with all of her family - five siblings, two parents. While their ages range from 14 to late-20's, their bond breaks the age gap that so separates many other families. Each of the family members carried in them a similar glow that I am blessed to see in Lily each day I spend with her. They're dry-humored and loving, and share a characteristic that I was most astounded by -- tolerant.
At the dinner table, I asked the family what is the meaning of Ramadan. The essence of the answer was that it was a practice of self-restraint, appreciation, and gratitude for traditional core values: family and the emotional as well as physical support that which family brings. Sitting at that table, I saw in this family patience and truly unconditional love.
They cracked dad jokes and interjected clever quips, and had stories abound of mundane activities turned into pure comedy genius. Dinner at the Bakours was like a storybook family reunion.
I'm sharing this story not only to shed light on how wonderful a family Lily has, but also in defense of core values that I believe we, or at least I, have forgotten.
While Ramadan is observed with religious connotations, its purpose roots itself in, as earlier mentioned, core values. We live in a world of disjointed dinners -- John feeds little Pete a sandwich in the car on the way to soccer practice while Carol's sending off little Amy to basketball. Everyone is everywhere. It's a rare sight to see a family enjoy a meal that is not eaten in a rush.
I can't say I know much more about Ramadan from eating just one meal with a family that observes it. However, I can say that dinner at Lily's was truly eye-opening. It's of paramount importance to remember why we love -- out of gratitude, care, and respect for our counterparts. This "reasoned love" that the Bakours subconsciously recognize is pervasive in every interaction they have with each other. This is exactly what creates the ever-so-strong bond between their family members.
I'm lucky to have Lily as a friend. Who she is to me, is a product of how she has grown up, and with whom she grown up, and I'm just as blessed to have her in my life as she is to have them.