In the weeks leading up to Ramadan, I got this question so, so many times. It seemed like the question that everyone needed to ask, like when you see newlyweds and people keep asking them, so…You Pregnant?
Each and every time I got this question, my internal dialogue would start.…No…No…I’m not ready. I’m trying to cram as much fun into summer as possible before summer goes dark during Ramadan….Why does it have to be during SUMMER? Can’t it be during the time of the year when my people are off at school and not trying to have fun? No, I’m not ready to wake up in the middle of the night to beg my people to eat. No, I’m not ready to hang in limbo for 30 days. What do I have to get ready for? I’m the support staff! I just make sure everyone has what they want to eat, and I referee the bickering. I make sure they stay entertained and comfort them when they are so hungry and I get the gifts ready and I need to figure out how to decorate for the Eid.
I answer: ‘We are preparing for Ramadan. I hope we will be ready.’
I asked Khaled. ‘People keep asking me if we are getting ready. How do you get ready?’ He explained that some people do some practice days of fasting, or they wait longer times in between eating. They wean themselves off of caffeine or cigarettes. They pre-cook meals and get their houses very clean.
I kept getting this question all the way up to Monday. Pea was getting more and more excited. My dread was increasing. I saw people posting their Ramadan decoration photos and I thought they were pretty, but didn’t look like something we would do at our house. I thought about looking for a bunch of lanterns, but to be honest it wasn’t that high on my list of priorities. To me, Ramadan is like the 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We squeeze in some entertaining here and there, do a bunch of shopping, make sweets and decorate. I only get excited when the holiday is actually here.
On Monday, I had a conversation with JJ where I was talking about this very topic. I was brutally honest with her. Then she said something that just made it all very clear. She explained to me that this month was more than just fasting. ‘It makes you feel so very humble to be so very hungry and so very thirsty and to continue to control your temper and your words.’ Somehow, that sentence, coupled with the facts that I know…that you should read the entire Quran during Ramadan, and that you should spend more time praying, and you should spend several nights praying all night long. At the end of the month, your sins are washed away. You are fresh and clean for the next year.
At the end of the month, your sins are washed away. You are fresh and clean for the next year.
It is like going on a Spiritual Retreat.
But instead of going away on a Spiritual Retreat where there are people to care for you and take care of the minutia so all you have to do is pray, eat, sleep and get closer to God; you are going on a Spiritual Retreat while the rest of your life still needs tending.
I went on a Spiritual Retreat once. I didn’t know what to expect, but while I was there it was amazing. It was life changing.
That is where I became good friends with Jesus. During that weekend retreat all I had to do was eat, sleep and pray. We talked about God, we talked about Jesus and we talked about how God works in our lives and how much we are loved in this life. People gave us gifts of affirmation, little bookmarks and bracelets that they had made. Others who had been on the retreat before wrote us letters telling us how important we were to them and how they saw God working in our lives.
I was forever a different person after that weekend.
Muslims do this Every Year.
All of the sudden, I got it.