Monday, November 23, 2009

Force of Nature

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I am in love with this quote, which I found in a dear friend's signature:
"This is the true joy in life - being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."
-George Bernard Shaw
In the incessant balancing act of motherhood, between validating the difficulties of motherhood and being selfless and uncomplaining, between finding time for myself and being who my children need me to be, between being a mother and a community activist, and between needing to nurture myself so I may give more and going for long days without a break I mustn't forget that ultimately I am not seeking a place of bliss and happiness. Not in this dimension of life.

We may find peaceful places along our journeys, rejuvenating moments, friendships, deep wells of tranquility and contentment, our child's head on our lap, the coolness of prayer. But we were created to move on to another life and this one will not last. Those moments will pass, time will never be still, and we will be moving forward, working with our head down, onward to meet our Lord. If we understand well, we will be making something of the time we've been given here on earth, in the ways that Allah has opened for us. On that journey, we may find a deep sense of peace and realize our potential, but we mustn't linger too long or spend too much time soaking in the sunlight. Or else we may become distracted and never want to leave.

If I could meet my Creator truly worn out, exhausted, spent to every last breath ... yes, I think that is how I would like to meet Him.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Lemon Tree

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The quiet lemon tree in our backyard burst into yellow glory a few days ago, branches weighed down with fruit that touched the grass. We brought our largest bucket, a hose, and lots of citronella for the mosquitoes, and I sat in the grass with my camera and soaked in the colors and sounds of picking lemons on a warm autumn day. Picking, tugging, falling over backwards, tossing, laughing, washing, splashing, *accidentally* falling in the kiddie pool.

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Baby crawled in and out of my lap the whole time, trying to figure out which she preferred--snuggling in the lap of a mother so rarely still or tasting the grass and licking the skin of lemons.

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Picking lemons and making lemonade has been the perfect activity for the girls. They can do it all, almost, from beginning to end. While I sat, took pictures, and gave words of encouragement, they picked, washed, carried, took out the seeds, (no, they don't really need to do that step, since there is a strainer in the hand juicer, but it's fun to poke at lemons with forks), squeezed, added the water and sugar syrup, stirred, tasted, added some more water, stirred again, tasted, and then proudly poured a glass of warm lemonade for their dad.

We have so many lemons now we don't know what to do with them. Masha'allah, the shy, little tree has suddenly produced so much fruit that it has filled our kitchen and our stomachs, quenched our thirst again and again, and there's many more still left on the tree. We've made lemon shakes and lemonade. We have overflowing bucketfuls, and many more where those came from. Insha'allah we'll be making lemonade for all of our friends.

Mint lemonade, Strawberry lemonade. Brazilian lemonade. Any other requests? Squeeze. Squeeze. Squeeze. Squeeze. Squeeze. Stir. Sip. More sugar. Squeeze. Squeeze.

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When life gives you lemons... *sigh* I was just finding some calmness in my life.

Now I have a pool of lemons.

Alhamdulillah, for the blessings we have.

If I'm going to be swamped, it might as well be lemons.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Answerer

When I was single and a student, I would gobble up books and audio series, taking vigorous notes and racing through them so I could go on to the next. Today as a homeschooling mom and homemaker with little time to listen or read and less time to take notes, I listen while I'm exercising or read a few carefully selected pages here and there. And then let it swim around in my head and eventually settle.

Every once in a while, I come across a thought or a paragraph that gives me a new lens to view the world with. Everything is sharper, cleaner, softer, or brighter. Lately, I've been living with Allah's names, letting them unfold in my awareness and give new meaning to every prayer and moment.

One of the names of Allah (swt) is Al-Mujeeb, The Answerer. How fortunate and blessed we are to be servants of The One who called Himself Al-Mujeeb. Imagine if, in order for our supplications to be heard, we had to do certain rituals, climb high on a mountain, make wudu, or go through an intercessor. Instead, we only have to let out the innermost whisper and we are heard by Al-Mujeeb. Allah chose that attribute for Himself.

Not only that, but He also made it one of the highest acts of worship to ask for what we need! We are commanded to ask, every day, for the little, insignificant things and the seemingly impossible. "Ask me, and I will answer..." (40:60)

Radeetu billahi rabban! Truly, I am pleased with Allah as a Lord!

And then I heard this, and my relationship with supplication suddenly bloomed as it never had before. Allah would never inspire us to utter a supplication unless He will answer it in the most perfect and satisfying way. Because He is al-Mujeeb, The Answerer. It would never, ever do for a servant to raise her hands in supplication and for Al-Mujeeb to not answer. So, from the very first moment that we are inspired to make dua, we can know with utter certainty that it will be answered.

Sometimes, the answer comes in a form we didn't expect but with time we realize it is the perfect answer. Sometimes, the answer will be beyond what we had ever hoped. Sometimes, it will be saved for a day when we would despair of salvation and would trade ANYTHING for one more deed, and then Al-Mujeeb will finally answer our supplication that had gone unanswered in this life. And sometimes, the answer is delayed, just so that we can continue growing closer to Our Creator a little longer, needing Him, crying to Him, calling upon Him, finding solace in knowing that He is listening and will most surely answer.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Blurred Memories

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It's only been four years, and I can't remember when Moona got her first teeth, or whether she could crawl as fast as Meem can now. I watch her videos, snapshots of four years ago, and wonder how the dimpled, grinning baby became the cheerful, perceptive little girl that she is now. It has been only a few years, and already I feel those early memories swirling into a blur.

Mothers with children grown remind me to record these details, to write them down, take pictures, anything to preserve this crazy, joyous, boisterous, sloppy, sweet part of our lives. A large part of this blog has been just recording the mundane details in our daughters' lives, so insha'allah we can come back two, five, or twenty years from now and reflect upon Allah's miracles in our lives.

On a sillier note, in the last few weeks, from the mouths of my babes:

Buru: Flathatha Fulolo (thalatha-three, farawla-strawberry--yes, I prompted her to say that)

Super-sensitive Moona: It makes me sad when you look at me like that... and later: It makes me sad when you wag your finger at me like that ... later: It makes me sad when you make that face ....

For a long time, every single one of these words has been simply "Ngha" to Buru: Assalam alaikum, alhamdulillah, bismillah, masha'allah, Quran, dua, Subhanalladhi sakhara lana..., Salla allahu alaihi wa sallam. Simply "Ngha". Considering that she speaks Fusha Arabic anyway and it's all basically the same language, we were amazed at her ability to distinguish between what is derived from the Islamic shariah and what was just bid'ah. :)

Moona: (standing at the door before entering the bathroom, speaking in a loud voice to make sure the devil will hear, adding her own flourishes to the dua) Allahuma. Bismillah. Audhu billahi min ash-shaitan ar-rajeem. Ya rabbi. Audhu bika min al-khubuthi wal khaba'ith... Ij'al ash-shaitan ba'eeeeeeeeed jiddan. (My Lord. Bismillah. I seek refuge from the shaitan. O Lord. I seek refuge from the unclean spirits. Keep the shaitaan faaaaaaaar away.)

Moona: Yoopsies. ('whoops')

And my favorite, Buru's totally original nickname for her baby sister: Toota Lallah. I think that's a keeper!

Slow Days

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I have so much to write, so much to say. But until I can:

1. Clean my house
2. Get into a peaceful homeschooling rhythm
3. Put a dent in some of the looming MAS projects hanging over my head
4. Help keep growmama.com alive and breathing

I will have to keep my little sparrow blog, the final frontier of freedom and creativity in my life, on the back burner. *sniff* Every time I post something, put a comment up on facebook, or send a casual reflection out on a MAS list, I get at least three people emailing or calling me, "How's it going with project x?" Translation: What are you doing writing/facebooking/contemplating when you're supposed to be working, SLAVE?

Actually, my masters are really very kind. And I work because I want to and I'm in a life stage that is by nature unavoidably chaotic. But I know one thing about myself, I NEED an outlet to thrive and give more of myself. Why do I feel guilty about it, then? Why does writing here feel like sneaking a Heath Bar when I'm supposed to be dieting?

"Stand back, you hear! I HAVE A BLOG AND I'M NOT AFRAID TO USE IT!"

Otherwise, I may just decide to hide under the bedcovers and avoid all phones, emails, facebooks, public appearances, and online pizza orders: anything that would be a sign of my existence. So they don't come after me.

In the meantime, until things are a little more in order, I will post pictures and a few words here and there, to keep my few and beloved readers coming back occasionally. Just nothing deep for a while, assuming anything here was ever deep.

P.S. I just spent 15 minutes trying to get rid of the border on my picture and failed. When I could have been ironing or editing. Whaddya say to that?!