I have now been two weeks in Saudi Arabia.
I have talked with many students and their teachers, been to the mosque, talked with a Moslem scholar, learned a few Arabic words, and of course every day I do my work.
Every day is a relentless confrontation with the unfamiliar.
I often find it exhausting and overwhelming, but I trust that increasing understanding is coming.
Inshallah! (“If Allah allows me this future” – a phrase that is ever-present in the Islamic world)
Of course I notice the white robes and red scarves of the men, the black robes of the women, and so many other outward cultural signs and symbols.
It’s easy to be distracted by little things without understanding these details within one cultural context.
Another way to ask my one question right now: how does it really *feel* to be a Saudi?
These are big questions that take time to answer.
But already I know that the answers will mean more effective communication and genuine results in my work.
This culture has sustained itself for thousands of years.
There are essential practical and historical causes for current Arabic values and practices.
So what is the context and the background for whatever I see in this city with these people?
To answer these questions requires a continuous rejection of my past.
How deeply can I trust not-knowing, in the pursuit of understanding?
This very unfamiliar place is a place to practice this deep curiosity.
I try to look freshly and as deeply as I can.
Here too this requires “Authentic Confidence”.