“Begum Sheikh, what are you doing with a Bible?”
“I am earnestly in search of God… I must find God, but I am confused about your faith… You seem to make God so…I don’t know…personal!”
The little nun’s eyes filled with compassion and she leaned forward.
“Begum Sheikh,” she said, her voice filled with emotion…”Why don’t you pray to the God you are searching for? Ask Him to show you His way. Talk to Him as if He were your friend.”
I smiled. She might as well suggest that I talk to the Taj Mahal… “Talk to Him,” she said very quietly, “as if He were your father…”
Alone in my room I got on my knees and tried to call Him “Father.” But it was a useless effort…ridiculous. Wouldn’t it be sinful to try to bring the Great One down to our own level? I fell asleep that night more confused than ever.
Hours later I awoke. It was after midnight, my birthday December 12. I was 54 years old… Oh, how I missed [my father.]… I had been so proud of him, with his high posts in the Indian government…impeccably dressed, adjusting his turban at the mirror before leaving for his office. The friendly eyes under bushy brows, the gentle smile, the chiseled features and aquiline nose.
One of my cherished memories was seeing him at work in the study. Even in a society where sons were more highly regarded than daughters, Father prized his children equally. Often, as a little girl, I would have a question to ask him and I would peek at him from around the door of his office, hesitant to interrupt. Then his eyes would catch mine. Putting down his pen, he would lean back in his chair and call out, “Keecha?” Slowly, I would walk into the study, my head down. He would smile and pat the chair next to his. “Come, my darling, sit here.” Then, placing his arm around me, he would draw me to him. “Now, my little Keecha,” he would ask gently, “what can I do for you?”
It was always the same with Father. He didn’t mind if I bothered him. Whenever I had a question or problem, no matter how busy he was, he would put aside his work to devote his full attention just to me…
Suppose, just suppose God were like a father. If my earthly father would put aside everything to listen to me, wouldn’t my heavenly Father…?
Shaking with excitement, I got out of bed, sank to my knees on the rug, looked up to heaven and in rich new understanding called God “my Father.”
I was not prepared for what happened.
From I Dared to Call Him Father by Bilquis Sheikh
To be continued