Jakarta, 6 February 2013
Every morning I wake at 4.15 as the Call to Prayer sounds from the neighbourhood mosque here in Lenteng Agung. In the evening, prayer and chanting from the same mosque mingle with our own prayers in our RSCJ chapel. In the waiting area of the tiny bus depot where we catch the bus to Bandung, there is an even tinier mushola (prayer room) for the convenience of Muslim travellers. There is also a mushola in McDonald’s where Nance O’Neil and I stop for a café latte on the way to her appointment at the bank. At the airport a group of Hajj pilgrims is pointed out to me. The atmosphere of solemnity and expectation of this journey to Mecca is intense.
I am doing a little English teaching while I am here and this requires travelling on a packed Jakarta train. In the women-only carriage we are surrounded by women wearing Islamic head dress, in Indonesia known as the ‘jilbab’. Because of the crush I feel physically a part of this group and less like a foreigner (even though I look like one) observing a different culture from the outside.
Later in discussion with the seminarians in my class, these daily occurrences become more focused as I hear about the values of mutual respect and understanding that are so vital for the co-existence of religions in this predominantly Muslim society.
In this spirit, the RSCJ in Indonesia live amongst their neighbours of different faiths with the same sense of enjoyment and hospitality as I witness between themselves.
Anne Corry, rscj
Province of Australia-New Zealand