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Portraits in Faith

Angie El Batraway - Giza, Egypt

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“I will tell you a very funny story about God. When I was a kid I used to think that God is the ceiling. Because when I asked my mom “where is God? she told me “He’s up there.” When I looked up there all I found is the ceiling. So for a very long time, I used to think that God is the ceiling.  And then when I got older I used to think that everyone has got a ceiling in his home, so there are many Gods. Then I got to the point of realizing that there’s one God and He is up there but He’s not the ceiling.

[How would you describe the faith you feel today?]

I think I have faith in myself. Anybody or me as an individual can change the world and make it a better place.”

 

I met Angie El Batrawy in Cairo, Egypt where she is a journalist and graphic designer.  Today she is the Managing Editor of an online magazine, “Cairo 360.”  When we met she was the Editor of the magazine published by the El-Sawy Cultural Wheel, a very progressive and impressive culture and arts organization located under a bridge right on the River Nile.  Angie has a big smile and I can tell from our time together that she sees the possibilities and the humor in of all of life.  

I love her story of when she was young and she thought the ceiling was God.  Almost all of us learn our concept of God (including not having a concept of God) from our parents.  And many people never learn another concept of God—they still think God is the ceiling or whatever they think they were taught.  It reminds me of the quote from the late great Muhammad Ali who said:  “A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”  I believe the same applies to our concept of God.  

Thank God I no longer see God the way I did as a child.  Now my greatest understanding of God is that he/she/it is beyond understanding, is one with all that is, and is in you and me.  And I love also that Angie says that today her faith is in herself, that each of us can change the world, and that this is faith.  I couldn’t agree more.  

One Comment to “Angie El Batraway”

  • Thank you, Angie & Daniel! I loved hearing this story. I am ever fascinated with how we conceptualize God. From one of us to the other, from one culture to the other, from then to now…knock-your-socks-off amazing.

    One of my first experiences of God was as a little one. I have few childhood memories. The only ones I do have are the most vivid and lucid of my experiences. Every morning, at least for a while, my mother would bless me (with a cross and words about Jesus that I don’t remember) when putting on my little white Carter undershirt. I knew my mother loved me, but the feeling I’d get when she did this was different. I felt what I can only call, in retrospect, grace, touched, blessed. My mother was not a “religious” person. In fact, the idea of religion was never mentioned or discussed or shared. We never went to church or synagogue (my mother considered herself Christian, my father was Jewish). Sadly, I never spoke to my mother about those sweet blessings before she died.

    I experienced many more of these moments as a child. Daniel, in contrast to your thanking God you no longer see God the way you did as a child, I long for the opposite, to feel and see God just as I did as a child.

    Angie, I love your faith, and your sweet, innocent ceiling God is so precious. Daniel, I am with you in my own belief. Although I try to understand, with great passion and curiosity, it is essentially to no avail. Great Mystery.

    Love, gratitude, and bless…

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