Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer


When a western-world thinker first goes to live in an Islamic country, the words we love to hate are “bukra” (tomorrow) “badeen” (later) and “insh’allah (God willing), because in the world we are coming from, when you say “tomorrow,” it means that the plumber will be coming tomorrow. In Islamic countries, “tomorrow” or “later” might mean that they don’t want to upset you by telling you that it is unlikely that the plumber will be able to come within the next two weeks.

“Will you have this dress back to me by November 10th?” you ask, because you intend to wear it to the Marine Ball.

“Insh’allah,” they might answer, God willing. They have never seen a dress come back that fast, but God is mighty, and in his power anything is possible.

In today’s Lectionary, James reminds us that “insh’allah” should be our own response to every commitment, and I always find it humbling. We in the West are always so sure, so confident, and as we plan, God just laughs. Or weeps.

James 4:13-5:6

13 Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.’ 14 Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.’ 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

5 Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. 2 Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure* for the last days. 4 Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts on a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Middle East, Random Musings, Spiritual, Words | 2 Comments