The Queen of henna.

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When asked to share my favorite picture from the trip, I kept coming back to this one. It seems to embody everything I’ve learned, processed, and deeply felt. The light coming through the window symbolizes the light being shed on not only the religion of Islam, but on Muslim women. The Islamic shrine may be in the center of the picture but my eyes go straight to her. Her blue hijab perfectly pairs with the eccentric walls. A single moment frozen in time. If this picture were passed around the Internet, what comments would appear? Would people assume she’s oppressed and given no rights? A picture says a thousand words, but those words are indicative of the person and the heart that speaks them. What would a Westerner think of this image? What would they assume about this woman who wears a hijab?

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What this image doesn’t capture is the tea and laughter being shared throughout the room with my new Moroccan friends. It doesn’t show the “selfies” being taken, the cookies being shared, or the conversations being had. It also doesn’t capture the beauty of this woman’s story. She is the QUEEN of henna; the master of her craft. She rules with incomparable grace and everlasting elegance. Her focus is fierce and her imagination is even wilder. Each detail is carefully placed and delivered meticulously. All of the princesses in her kingdom look up to her with respect. She is beautiful and strong, intelligent and independent. She has the freedom of choice, the freedom to dream, the freedom to dance. She makes life more beautiful and highlights the goodness in each person she comes across. She made THIS princess feel known. The design she placed on my body fit my personality and highlighted the deepest most precious pockets of my soul. Each swirl is filled with secrets of my past and hopes for my future. Though little words were ever actually exchanged, we understood each other. A little piece of her God given gift remains on my hands that go out in the world; a world that seems a bit smaller now. Some experiences, no matter how short or how seemingly insignificant, remain in our hearts forever. And some people inspire us without even trying.

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