DairyStateKid#2 and I were headed out the door at way-too-early into way-too-cold this morning, getting him to his bus stop. I was still in pajamas and bathrobe, with boots and winter parka and hat and gloves to keep me warm.
"I'll explain in the car."
"That" is this:
In the Gambia my sister and brother-in-law wound up apprenticed for a year to a kora musician and praise singer who was Muslim.
It is the custom, at least among this particular group of Muslims, to write sayings from the Qur'an on a wooden tablet, then to wash the ink into a bottle. The bottle of inky water would then be worn on one's person as a sort of talisman.
Aware of a particular saying from the Qur'an, my father, through my sister, commissioned their host to make several such tablets--but not to wash off the ink (a request that, my sister later reported, their host found quite puzzling). Everyone in our family got one of these, and when my first marriage ended several years ago, I left mine behind, designating it as belonging to DairyStateKid#1. My mother kindly got me a second one, which, now that I think if it, has been designated as belonging to DSK#2.
My father--we can call him LoneStarStateDad--had grown up attending an Episcopalian church, but when I was growing up he only attended on Christmas Eve and, perhaps, once in a while on Easter. (And when I was confirmed.) His real God was the God of the natural world, and his worship was simply to live in and learn about it as much as he could. But, owing to his personality or perhaps his choice of academic discipline or, more likely, some combination of both, I found him to be a strong influence for pluralism.* Indeed, when I converted to Unitarian Universalism (and I accept that term for the process even if some don't), I was in some ways coming home to the inchoate faith of my father.
This is the translation of the verse on that tablet, typed out on my father's old typewriter, nearly
*This is not to take anything away from my mother, EmpireStateMom, who herself is an open and pluralistic person on matters of religion.