Lalish is the holy heartland of the Yazidi people, tucked in the valleys of the Nineveh Province of Iraqi Kurdistan. The nice folks there walk around shoeless, kissin' door frames, walls, and the ground here and there. They never step on, but always over, the thresholds of all the temple doorways—and asked that we do the same.
This was inside the Lalish temple. The ‘stached gentleman looking my way works for Baba Sheikh—the spiritual leader of the Yazidi people, akin to the Catholic's Pope.
"Stache" didn't speak much English, but stayed within spittin’ distance—watchfully somber and, I guess, curious about us and the boo-coos of photos I was taking.
The temple was dark and difficult to photograph. So as soon as I spotted the glory of God’s daylight bathing an opening in the wall, I pranced my little ambitious tail over to it and confidently planted not one—but two—bare feet right atop the doorway's threshold; a threshold that, perhaps, not a single soul had tread upon in a thousand years or so.
Smooth, Jessie. Smooth.
About the time the camera met my eye, ‘Stache (and everyone else) started hollering some Kurmanji-something about gettin’ my damnable feet the heck off that holy ground. I flailed in fear like a fish on a hook. What a terrible thing I had done!
After gaining composure, I glanced at “Stache”—certain an arrest was soon to follow. But, I kid you not, he stood there chuckling!
From then on he was astoundingly more approachable. He even came over and suggested I get a photo of myself, and offered his services. How very thoughtful! I eagerly handed off my camera...hoping it might atone for my “little” doorway mishap.
Anyway, I'm still terribly sorry for what I did. But, ya know, maybe seeing me misstep and make a fool of myself was wonderfully ordinary; thus, wonderfully kindred—wonderfully human. Which, perhaps, then made me wonderfully approachable—a thing of grace more effective than my most perfectly penned words or planned presentations.
Maybe we all need a little more brazen honesty about our missteps, for others—and for ourselves (if we're honest). Don't ya think?