Today starts the Holy Month of Ramadan. Which for Muslims around the world is a time of fasting and prayer and reflection. My heart remains in Egypt, a nation struggling to find its footing in freedom after decades of corruption and political oppression.
I wish today was the start of a joyous and warm holiday season. But it looks like this time I’ll be turning to my faith for comfort more than gratitude.
For health reasons, this will be the second year that I will not be able to fast for the season. Non-Muslims will perk and say “Why is that a bad thing?” But I like the fasting part. I may whine during the first week or so, but after that I hit my stride. There’s something cleansing about the process, and a victory felt as the sun sets, the prayer calls start, and the dates and apricot nectar come out before the big Iftar meal. Not being a part of that makes me feel a little outside of things, and a little sad.
It’s also the first Ramadan I’m starting out alone. My husband and I have had a tradition of taking a brief weekender vacation the weekend before the start of Ramadan; and the first Iftar used to be held at our house with family and friends. I used to spend all day preparing and cooking and setting the table with the fancy china, and turbo-cleaning the house, and keeping the cats out of the way. Today? I went to the medical center for blood tests. My husband is out of town, has been out of town for the past few weeks, and will continue to be out of town for the next few weeks. I can’t even be sure right now that I’ll see him before Eid. So I’m on my own.
So this season, I turn to my faith for comfort now more than gratitude, and will spend time with the Qu’ran, curled up on the couch doing the cover to cover reading alone. I’ll make more of an effort to make my prayers on time. I’ll pray that my husband makes it home safe and successful. I’ll pray for the health and safety of our family back home. I’ll recite my prayers in hopes for peace.
It won’t be a bad thing or an unpleasant time. Just more pensive and reflective and personal.