Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Rama-done!

It was a month to the day that I began the journey of my first-ever Ramadan. Eid is among us, and there is cause to celebrate. For one whole month, Muslims, and those tagging along during this holy tradition endured a daytime fast, a whole lot of prayer, and the many other aspects of Ramadan.

As a first-timer, this was a unique experience. One of my deciding factors for participating in Ramadan this year, was that the family I am staying with are Muslim. I thought it might be rude to be cooking a desirable smelling lunch while everyone around me fasted. Well, it turns out the joke was on me – exemptions of participation include children and pregnant folks. Mama is pregnant, and the two boys are children, so they didn’t participate. Papa was away during the weeks, and was only home on Saturdays and the occasional Sunday, so on those few occasions there was someone else fasting. Everyone else who stays within the same compound, including Mama’s brother, are Christian, so they, too, are also exempt from fasting! So, I, in effect, was the only one in my Muslim compound partaking in Ramadan… This meant I was the one that had to endure the tempting scents of cooking food during lunch time!

But aside from that, the experience was so much more. The meditation became a place of solace. It gave me time to think, to grieve, to be thankful, but most importantly to reflect. As the month went on, I became so much more aware of my feelings, of my mental state, and of what I was wanting – or perhaps needing – from life. I can’t recall a time that I’ve ever been more aware of my inner workings, nor my surroundings, and that has been the most rewarding part of this experience.

Fasting was not as much of a challenge as I’d anticipated; although some days were more difficult than others. I missed coffee, as the early morning hours made me feel sleepy throughout the day. And sure, I could have had it, but I was worried about the mid-afternoon caffeine crash/shakes. You know, the ones that require you to get something in your system in order to stave off?! I was actually quite surprised how easy the first few days were and yet how challenging the last week became. I found between 1 and 4 to be the times that I felt the fast the most, and occasionally around 10 or 11AM, which is when I would normally start thinking about breakfast. And now that the fasting as finished, I’m really struggling to eat, as I’m no longer used to scarfing down multiple meals a day!

Following the month-long fast is Eid – the big celebration culminating the end of Ramadan. Isma, my boda driver and good friend, spoke all month long about how great this celebration was going to be. He told me about years past, all the food that would be prepared, and insisted I join his family. I was all too happy to attend, and had this in mind throughout the month, especially in times where I was wanting to break before it was time. But, as many of the other expectations went, the morning of Eid, Isma awoke to an empty house. His mother had left to spend Eid in the village, meaning there would be no celebration for Isma, nor I! Luckily, the family I lived with sent me a plate from their celebration, which was both delicious and thoughtful… although a little strange that I was not invited to join them while we all ate. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this gesture and thanked them for thinking of me.

Eid dinner, as provided by my neighbours - rice, chapati, Irish, and matoke, with beef stew!

Now to sum it all up. In the post I wrote at the start of Ramadan, I indicated that following each prayer time – of which I decided to meditate rather than pray – I would make note of one thing that I was grateful for. At the time, I thought that this would involve 152 items, but because of the date on which Ramadan ended, it ended up being (only!) 148! I also decided that instead of just writing each thing down and posting a long list of randomly placed things, I would record myself identifying each of the 148 areas of gratitude. The result is a (just under) 6-minute video. Many of the things I list came to me fairly easy, although some days were a bit more challenging.


One that I left out, was how grateful I am for all of you who follow the blog faithfully* (and even those who just check in from time-to-time!). Life is pretty amazing, and I learned just how much I take for granted. I would love to know what things you are grateful for, as well, so feel free to send me a message, or leave it in the comments below!
                          

-the Orange Canadian

*And also bacon... actually I had accumulated a little list of additional things that weren’t included.

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