My spouse works for an International Relief and Development organization, and he had a meeting in Nepal. I was lucky enough to be able to tag along. I was so excited to travel to a part of the world I had never seen before, and I was not disappointed. For me, leaving home has always forced me to think about who I am and where I come from, things I take for granted in the U.S. “Where are you from? Why have you come to Nepal?” we would get asked several times a day. Being some of the only white people around, we stood out easily as foreigners.
One day, we took a taxi from our hotel to the Swayambhunath complex in Kathmandu Valley. It is a sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site that is also considered holy by Hindus. We sweated in the afternoon sun as we climbed stairs high above the city. Monkeys were frolicking around us. Prayer flags hung above us. Once we reached the top, Dan and I slowly circled the grounds, taking in the main stupa, shrines and temples, and a library and museum. The last building was a Tibetan monastery. We removed our shoes and entered slowly, eventually being welcomed to sit and be with the Tibetan monks. Robed in red and orange, monks of all ages chanted prayers in unity to the beat of a drum. It was powerful.
Eventually we left the monastery and wandered back out to the sunny platform. As we put our shoes back on, a man approached us.
He said, “You are Christian?”
“Yes, we are,” we replied.
“Do you read your Scripture?”
“Yes, we do.”
“Yes, we study.” Dan and I met, actually, studying our stories in theology graduate school.
“Good. Then we are brothers,” he finally smiled. “My story, your story. They seem different. But if you really study, they are the same.” And just like that, he left us.
It is a moment that I will hold with me for a long time, maybe forever. It look leaving home where there are so many Christians to realize how proud I am to be Christian, how proud I am to study my stories. How beautiful our stories are. We walked back down the temple steps, proud to be this man’s brother.