Monday, August 13, 2012

Running Up that Hill

Asalamu Alaykom,

This morning, after eating suhour, I made the decision to turn on the TV instead of picking up the Quran.  I saw the last half of The Closing Ceremony of the Olympics

 The Olympics this year have been very meaningful to me

...with all the Muslim athletes making decisions for their Ramadan

...a pregnant competitor

...the hijab debate

...a retired sportshero coming back from tragedy

...a refugee runner

...and a sexual-abuse survivor winning gold.  

I am not a big sports fan but I do love real-life stories of striving for excellence.

The Closing Ceremony made me wrap up all those stories and people and say, "Alhumdulillah" for the time together.  It was good to see the relief on the faces of all the participants---both the athletes and the organizers.  It was a good celebration.

I got to see Britian's pop band One Direction with the world's favorite Muslim pin-up boy Zayn Malik.  The band was pieced together in 2010 from failed solo acts by Simon Cowell on Britian's X Factor.

I got to see the wonderful Ray Davies whom Dr. Ingrid Mattson, had tweeted about earlier.

Ray Davies kills it  closing ceremony

I left the room to drink more water when the songstress in green began.

STOMP wasn't really what I needed at three in the morning but I sat there marveling how trash can lids and brooms could ever win over an audience.

I was really pumped to see Madness but though I heard them, I couldn't see them.

And then...there was Kate!  Kate Bush!  I love Kate Bush.  She is this ethereal fairy who sings from a place of absolute truth.  She appears silly sometimes and unappologetically so.  I love that she has always put herself out there---

for Wuthering Heights

for Babooshka

for This Women's Work

for Deeper Understanding

AND of course for the song they played at the Olympics: 

It doesn't hurt me.
Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know, know that it doesn't hurt me?
Do you want to hear about the deal that I'm making?
You, It's you and me.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
Say, If I only could, oh...

You don't want to hurt me,
But see how deep the bullet lies.
Unaware, I'm tearing you asunder.
Ooh, There is thunder in our hearts.

Is there so much hate for the ones who love?
Tell me we both matter don't we?

It's you and me,
It's you and me who won't be unhappy.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
Say, If I only could, oh...

It's you and me,
It's you and me who won't be unhappy.

On the TV there was a scene of performers on the stage making something out of large blocks.  I watched it unfold and began to guess what the structure was.  Yes, it was the pyramid; big, white, classic and undeniably identifiable.  I had been viewing the real pyramids on my roof and crying earlier.

There's something about these phone calls from The States this Ramadan which is so upsetting to me.  I'm in this country yet I'm dealing with the past from that country.  I'm truly living in Egypt but every time I get a phone call from America I feel pulled backwards and sad.  

I prayed to God on the roof to help me get rid of these mixed-up feelings. I want and NEED to live in the present.  I've been struck lately about the stages humans go through and I've really been questioning if I'm still going through growth or if I've entered into decline.  I will no longer grow if I am stuck.  I don't want to be stuck in feelings or in the past.

Just then the lights went out all over the village of Al-Haram and there was an audible, "AHHHHHH!" 

Immediately following that was my boy downstairs who could no longer watch cartoons, "MOMMMMY! MOMMY!  MOMMY!!!!"

Yes, I was needed in the here-and-now.  Thanks, God.   

I got Mr. Boo ready for bed in the dark.  He tried using his laser gun to help us find our way.  I lit a candle instead.  I had to wash him off by squirting water from a re-purposed shampoo bottle.  It works!  We brushed teeth, blew out our candle and followed our way to his room by the light of my cell phone.  Time to sleep.

I woke again when my husband came upstairs.  We sat and talked.  The lights came on but we turned them off again. We haven't had many quiet times this Ramadan.  I'm glad we had that chance.  And then it was time for suhour.

So, after I ate, I lied down on the couch,  in time to see the end of an amazing time in Lodon.  I got to hear Kate Bush's song while watching the dancers pile together a pyramid.  It seemed tailored made for me in my mood.  I sang along (quietly because my hub was reading Quran).  I knew that I would inshahallah have time for Quran after praying fajr.

Come on baby, come on darling
Let me steal this moment from you now
Oh come on angel, come on come on darlin'
Let's exchange the experience oh...

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems...

If only I could,
Be running up that hill...

I turned off the TV and made wudu.  I really appreciate that my hub didn't judge me to be a "bad Muslim" because I needed that moment of song and spirit and re-connecting.  That song had meant a lot to me over the years and it continued to speak volumes to me today.

We prayed fajr.

I got on my magnifying specs and started in the surah Al-Balad.  We hear baladi; my country a lot in Egypt with all the patriotic songs.  Al-Balad means "the land".  I read both the words from Allah and the tafsir from Muhammad Asad.  I turned the page.

But he would not try to ascend the steep uphill road...

And what could make thee conceive what it is, that steep uphill road?

[It is] the freeing of one's neck [from the burnden of sin], 
or the feeding, upon a day [one's own] hunger, 
of an orphan near of kin, 
or of a needy [stranger] lying in the dust
---and being, withal, of those who have attained to faith,
and who enjoin upon one another patience in adversity, 
and enjoin upon one another compassion.

Surah 90; 11-17


Allah continues to speak to me through the living word of the Quran.  Everytime I search; I find.  Alhumdulillah.  It isn't enough to read it.  You need to really enter into it---not as a quaint pious person but as a real traveler on a journey who must MUST find the path or die.


There are times I wonder who I am and what I'm doing.  I'm a mix of cultures and places and people.  I have a history and have chosen to remain intact somehow rather than lose everything I've known.  I've built and rebuilt myself so much that it hurts at times like Ramadan when I feel I have to re-organize my life again.

Yet, the comfort from Allah through the Quran is there and can work in conjunction with the Olympics, Kate Bush and the pyramids.  Alhumdulillah.

Ramadan Kareem!

Not long to go now until Eid.

Ask Allah for some clarity.  It's there for you...I promise.

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