We’ve seen her regularly over the last couple of years, standing near the corner of a main intersection, waving a promotional sign for a store in the nearby plaza. She’s a familiar face to us now and her hand gestures consistent…high, medium and low. She stands in the brutal Canadian winter cold. She stands in the sweltering heat of the summer. And it seems every time we see her, I think about what a tough job she must have. My kids have noticed too; my twelve year-old son has even declared he wants to stop and give her money so she doesn’t have to work this job. We are always amazed that she’s still there after all this time, both on weekdays and weekends.
The most recent time we saw her was a couple of weeks ago. She stood wearing large sunglasses, her face obviously sunburned. July here has been impossibly hot and humid with everyone complaining about the severe weather. But there she was, as always, holding the store’s sign, waving her arms up in the air, with the same enthusiasm repeatedly! That’s when I thought, she sure must have a lot of discipline to keep this up in this kind of weather. Then it occurred to me…that’s the kind of discipline we exercise during Ramadan. It’s not always easy but we persist through the challenges we face while we fast and become stronger and more resilient as a result. That in itself is a gift from Allah (SWT) and one of the many precious blessings of Ramadan.My sixteen year-old is working a summer job and when he mentioned to one of his co-workers that Ramadan had begun, the teenager was rather dumbfounded by the idea of fasting. My son tried to explain in a nutshell the value behind fasting. He told him it teaches patience, helps one remember those who are hungry, and instils in oneself that God is always watching. After my son told me about this conversation I couldn’t help but think back to that woman at the intersection. We have been looking at her with astonishment while others have been confused by our observance of Ramadan, subhan Allah. Her motivation is material while ours is spiritual, but somehow we share a link that involves hardship, persistence and reward
Hebba is a Canadian mother of two boys and lives in Oakville, Ontario. She is a passionate Montessorian and is currently working at an Islamic elementary school.