Editor’s Note: The following is part of our daily holiday series celebrating “The Shared World.” Mariam is a former employee and close friend of FMS.
My two closest friends from childhood are Marjie, a Conservative/Orthodox Jew, and Sehreen, an Ismaili Muslim. As an Orthodox Christian, I have always been thankful to have their perspectives along my own journey.
Somewhere between the high school boy-crushes and celebrating the births of our children in recent years, we have built a bond that far transcends the differences that separate our faith traditions.
Just a week after I returned from being a missioner in Zambia in 2008, I was a bridesmaid in Marjie’s wedding. As I stood next to the chuppah, and observed my first (and probably only!) Jewish wedding ceremony, I couldn’t help but wonder what I had done to “earn” such a place of honor.
Three years later, as I embraced Sehreen at her henna party, and later danced the night away to Pakistani music, I was again mesmerized.
When I consider what the entry point to these friendships was, I realize the core of it is a willingness to enter into relationships across difference. An openness to finding the “shared world”. I realize how this openness has shaped my journey.
Having just begun a fellowship in the Office of Faith-based Community Initiatives at the State Department, my colleagues are the Special Representative to Muslim Communities and the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. And I am managing our external engagement – bringing religious leaders across these faith traditions together to engage on global issues.
I know it is my friendships with Marjie and Sehreen that allowed me to embark upon this path, and it is the relationships that we will hopefully build here that will allow more individuals to enter into our shared world.
Mariam Kaldas is a former employee at FMS. She currently is enrolled in a fellowship with the Office of Faith-based Community Initiatives at the State Department.
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