Shade for You
This morning I took an Uber to pick up my car. I noticed the driver's name was Gadistu. I couldn't wait to ask her the origin of that. The moment I got in her back seat, I knew this was going to be a fun ride. Her spirit was contagious from the moment she opened her mouth. We hit it off right away gabbing about my neighbor who was all up in her business when she pulled up. We laughed that she was like "Costco Karen" and that took us into all of
the names that you don't want to be these days like Karen or Becky (with the long hair). We shared stories about boys. She said that she stayed 10 extra minutes conversing with the guy she drove before me, about faith, culture and languages -her favorite things to discuss. I yelled out "No way! Mine too!" We connected even more as I told her that I am so drawn to different cultures, faiths and love learning about other languages (even though I'm only completely fluent in English, and sometimes that's up for debate). She told me she hates nationalism because she's "for all people". I knew we'd have some things to talk about there too.
That led into HER name- Gadistu. She said she's a refugee, originally from Syria. She and her family fled to the U.S. when she was a year old. Her name, which is Muslim, really means "shade for you" because she was born under the shade of a huge tree, but that sometimes it can also mean "that girl", which made me laugh. How beautiful is that? I told her that her name reminded me of the women's ministry, The Grove, at my church because part of its mission is to "offer our lives as shade to people in our path". She loved that. Then she told me when she prays, she asks God to be "shade" to her and the people she loves. She said "since you're a Christian, I know we pray different ways." and told me about the two ways that Muslims pray, one being the posture of prayer and how important that was, which I already knew but loved hearing from her. I was smiling so big under my mask. I knew I was in her car for a reason.
When she dropped me off, I knew we needed to continue the conversation. I got her number and texted her mine and told her I'll reach out this week to set up a date to have coffee together. Then I got in my car and thanked God for my new friend. I remembered reading a book by SQuire Rushnell, an author and former TV executive, called "When God Winks". He defines God-winks as "events or personal experiences, often identified as coincidence, so astonishing that it is seen as a sign of divine intervention, especially when perceived as the answer to a prayer." No doubt that Gadistu was a wink from God to me this morning.
Then I reflected on the word shade. Sadly, these days, when you look that word up you mostly find examples of "throwing shade", which seems seems to be indicative of the division and unrest happening in our country now. But this encounter with Gadistu today, was not that. On the contrary, it was comforting knowing that God gave me a new friend in the form of a Muslim Syrian woman whose name means "shade for you", because that is what she was to me on our 20 minute Uber drive.
I don't have to even look up the word shade to know that it is a protective covering that shelters people from the sun and elements outdoors. It provides relief, comfort, even a refuge. Shade can come from trees, an outdoor roof/cover, the wings of birds, your shadow, an umbrella or even a canopy. Then, I wondered what God says about shade so I went home and looked it up. Did you know that the word "shade" appears in the Bible 64 times? Here are a few of my favorite verses with "shade", especially Hosea 14:7 which foreshadows the coming of Jesus.
"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me; for the hope of my soul is in you: I will keep myself safely under the shade of your wings, till these troubles are past." (Psalm 57:1)
"Give us counsel and make a decision. Shelter us at noonday with shade that is as dark as night. Hide the refugees; do not betray the one who flees." (Isaiah 16:3)
I don't know about you, but I want to live in a world where it is common practice to provide shade to others when they need it most. I love that God provides shade for all of us in times of need. He certainly has many times for me. My prayer is that we will be that for others, the way that Gadistu was for me today.