Ramadan Reflections 2013 (day 25/26): Striving and failing and striving

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Greetings beloveds,

May this find your hearts well and at peace, inshallah!
I just got home from Tarawih at a mosque I’ve been wanting to go to since last Ramadan. It was lovely. I heard and felt the love in the imam’s voice as he recited. This masjid is also the only one I’ve been to in Philly where women and men pray on the same floor, no partitions. It is also the most culturally diverse with black, brown and white families interacting comfortably.

These last 10 days of Ramadan are said to be the most spiritually potent of the month. Many people make itikaf (retreat in the mosque), if they are able. I haven’t made such retreat myself before but inshallah I will. My retreat is largely within the space of my being. I find I am more and more inclined to silence, to not wanting to talk about worldly matters that feel like distractions. It’s interesting to be in this place of inward retreat at this time this year because this Ramadan has me in a state of transition, one that requires decisions to be made, conversations to be had and traveling. Is it possible to be inwardly in retreat amidst this outward activity? I don’t know. It feels like quite a challenge. But there is the inherent slowness of Ramadan to lean on for support. I may have to speak more than I like but I can do so with a slowness and deliberateness that is rooted in having my hands in the world but my heart with the Friend. And with patience dear ones, with sabr. This Ramadan has me becoming better acquainted with my faults and striving to cover the faults of others. I’ve been reading a beautiful book called The Way of Sufi Chivalry. A good part of it is about generosity of spirit, part of which includes endeavoring to embody the divine attribute Ghafur–the coverer of faults. We benefit ceaselessly from Allah’s generosity in covering our faults. Interestingly, Ghafur is closely related to Gaffar–the All-Forgiving. I am striving to forgive myself my shortcomings as I strive to be and do better, to be pure of heart. I am striving to shift my negative judgements. The Way of Sufi Chivalry says “judge others as you wish to be judged.” Inshallah.
Striving requires sabr. Everyday I strive and everyday I fail somewhere along the line, but the test is to continuing to strive and to ask for guidance, mercy and forgiveness.
Ya Allah, increase me in my striving! Amin
Ya Allah, increase me in peace! Amin
Ya Allah, increase me in sincerity! Amin
Ya Allah, expand my heart within my breast! Amin.
Ya Allah, Ya Allah, Ya Allah.
Astafirghallah, astafirghallah, astafirghallah.

That’s where I’m at today.
Inshallah I’ll be with my spiritual community for Laylat-ul-Qadr (the Night of Power) tomorrow. Many communities around the world are honoring it then. Inshallah may it truly elevate our hearts and increase us in our God-consciousness and awareness. May it make us more compassionate and kinder.

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