Surprising God

Marrakesh, Morocco, in  Riad Omar.

Sitting inside a beautiful traditional red and green tent, having dinner on top of a riad in Marrakech, I am discussing the Call to Prayer with Jamal.  Jamal is a shopkeeper who has offered to a few guests from Riad Maizie to his relative’s riad for dinner.  He has lived in Marrakesh all his life, and taught himself impeccable English—Jamal was finally inspired to learn a foreign language when he met a woman who he described as “disorientingly beautiful”–and she spoke no Arabic, only English.  Her beauty had worked its magic well with Jamal.  He is extremely articulate in English.

Five times a day there is a call to prayer here, which sounds more primal and plaintiff than I had expected.  I have almost a physical reaction to the amplified sound going out over the city, it sounds like a human air-raid, imploring the living to take refuge—in their Divine.   I have been using the human alarm clock here to offer up my own private silent prayers whenever I hear the call.   Now I press Jamal for details.

“We recognize two types of prayer:  the private prayer between you and your god, and the prayers you offer with others, together.”  Ah, yes, I see the distinction.  “The prayers with others are more powerful because you are connected together.  It is a different kind of prayer—bigger.  The prayer you offer between just you and God is when you surprise God.”

Surprise God?  I was totally stunned.  This is a possibility that I had never considered, never thought to think could exist.  I suspect that Jamal might have intended a different word, but that it also came out perfectly. I knew that I was often surprised _by_ God, by the devine, by life, but this was the first time in my life that I have ever contemplated surprising God.  I mean, if He/She is all knowing, how can I sneak up and surprise a being that knows all?  Perhaps if I asked permission to plan a surprise party, and asked Them not to peek?  I  certainly could see delighting God.   Maybe that is a kind of surprise.

Since we have free will, perhaps that is the loophole.  Today, I will see if I can find a way to surprise God.  Perhaps even to surprise myself.  And maybe to delight us both.

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