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A ceiling in Salalah.

One thing that has stood out since 2016 is that mosques, like people, seem to have their own personalities about them. For example, the Sultan Qaboos Mosque in Salalah has a noble serenity to it. It is clean and elegant and...soft. It makes you want to stay. And if you have to leave, it makes you want to return.

Spending an afternoon there was an accident. This is how it happens, though. A plan gets changed. The clock slows down. The noise of the inner urgent quiets. At some point, all that's left is a contented desperation. Or is it a desperate contentment?

If that doesn't make sense, think of it this way.

Imagine sitting at the edge of the ocean. It's late in the afternoon, when the shadows are long. You've had a fun day, a busy day. The full heat of the sun has slipped by. It's still warm out, but now, if the breeze catches you just right, there's an instant when the perfection of it causes you a chill. You are with someone who makes you feel totally at home with yourself. And there's an instant when, if the breeze catches you just right, the perfection of it causes you another chill.

It's that one--that chill on another chill--that causes you to say, "I love you," for the first time. And it's that one--that span while you wait to hear "Yes, I love you, too," for the first time; that feeling of wanting with your whole body for that span to end, but never to end--that is the feeling, or something close anyway, of accidentally being in the right mosque, at the right time of day, with the right light shining through the windows...and waiting...

Memory fails as to whether it was before Asr or after. But at some point, a man and his young son came into the mosque. As it would turn out, they were not supposed to have been at the masjid at that time either. Their plans had also changed.

We have stayed in touch since. He is a friend in the deepest recesses of the heart.

His father was likely a friend of God, what some would all a saint. The stories to confirm it are many. We don't have permission to share them here, so please forgive the allusions without more. Perhaps what can be said, though, is that, in this meeting at the Sultan Qaboos Mosque, this new friend whose father was a friend of God changed this heart's future...and past. Insha'Allah, we will be able to share that story on another day.

Meantime, there is a question that has come up while walking back through the memories of that day: That one who was so contentedly desperate / desperately content in that masjid that afternoon, was he the one who had said, "I love you" and was waiting for God's reply? Or was he actually the one on whom God was waiting and from whom God was wanting to hear, "Yes, I love you, too."



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