Thank you for being here.
Simple words. Everyday words. But words which were filled with emotion and sated with meaning, in the context in which they were spoken.
Everyday people. Everyday words. People going about their normal, everyday business.
They have been to work. They have driven their cars, parked along the verge. They are walking along the street; walking with intent, heading with purpose, to the place of prayer.
Hello. Thank you. Everyday words. Accompanied by smiles. Sometimes, by handshakes. Or by a hand held to the heart; no words, just a signal, that this was appreciated. Deeply appreciated.
In a curving street on a gently-sloping hill in a Canberra suburb, twenty of us were gathered, standing on the footpath, greeting worshippers as they arrived for prayer.
We were Christians. They were Muslims. We were white. They were, mostly, Middle Eastern, or Southeast Asian. They were coming to pray. We, too, would gather to pray; but not today.
Our day of prayer is Sunday. Their day of prayer is Friday. Today is Friday. It is their day of prayer.
So this Friday, we stood outside the mosque, a silent witness of support and solidarity. Smiling, bowing, shaking hands, offering a greeting; not speaking further unless we were engaged in conversation; simply, standing in solidarity.
This is what it is, to be a human being. This is what it is, to relate to our fellow human beings. Hello. Thank you. You are welcome. You are us. We are with you. We support you.
Simple words, short phrases; but deep emotion, and profound meaning. Just in these simple acts and words of human interaction.
Some conversations were longer. We discussed the issues, the personalities. We could see, and hear, and feel, the emotion.
It could have been people like these. It could have been these people. Ordinary people. Coming from work. Gathering to pray. People of faith. Ordinary people, committed people, people who share their lives with us each and every day.
They serve us in shops. They answer our phone calls. They draft our legislation. They clean our homes. They install and service our utilities. They collect our fares and drive our taxis. They are everywhere. They are people of prayer. They are people of peace. They are us. We are them.
What happened a week ago in New Zealand, at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre … and what has happened in Quebec City, and Kembe in the Central African Republic, and the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Minnesota, and in countless interpersonal interactions involving Muslims as victims … what has happened in far too many places, on far too many occasions, is a cause for deep distress.
We weep. We pray. And we stand, quietly, supportively, in solidarity.
Thank you for being here.
Further reflections on the tragic events in Christchurch: