How will they know they are accepted by Allah? When the joy from their blessings and the trouble and despair from their afflictions are the same to them. — paraphrased from a saying of Rabiah al Basri – a sahabi (companion) of the Prophet Muhammad (saw).
The Facebook statuses I am reading today, this Jummah (Friday) are so very real and raw and honest. Several friends who are in Jerusalem and tried to get to Masjid al Aqsa for Friday prayers wrote about how men under the age of 45 were denied entrance by IDF soldiers because a suicide bomber was on the loose (and later caught). Al Arabiya English columnist Haroon Moghul in his update:
“This was their normal. We were not permitted to pass, and by the time I was able to even turn around, another checkpoint have been set up a short distance behind me. Thousands of Palestinians were crammed onto the streets, forced to form rows and pray in the unbelievable heat. Trapped. A young man belted out a beautiful impossible loud Adhan. Another man of middle age delivered an anguished, enraged sermon. This was our mosque. The congregation was of course seething. The level of raw and bleak emotion we heard there and elsewhere underlines the fundamental unsustainability of the project of Israel as it stands today.”
One friend, Love Inshallah co-editor Ayesha Mattu, wrote poignantly about receiving a death diagnosis years ago right after getting married, and yet going on to have a child and finding a working treatment for her illness, which she was receiving again today. She wrote about the appreciation of love and life:
” … every year I come to the infusion center for my chemotherapy treatment, this poison that gives me life. Every year this is my reckoning. Was I kind to loved ones and strangers? Am I using every borrowed breath and day to its fullest potential? I’m at the infusion center now. Surrounded by mostly women in varying stages of illness and recovery, of hope and forlorness It hurts to be here, to be reminded of what could have been … But I am grateful for it too. The chance to be here still, striving and failing. The blessing of another day, another chance to walk in overwhelming gratitude for this precious, incomparable life.”
Another friend facing increasing difficulties with school and her autistic son simply wrote this: “Please don’t make me homeschool.”
And still another Facebook friend, one whom I don’t know at all but have been following recently since her 10-year-old autistic daughter had a seizure while taking a bath, was admitted to the hospital and later died, wrote this:
“I have been existing in a bubble. While people continue to rush about form point A to point B, I quietly and peacefully exist in the present. Savoring my simple meal where the only immediate sound is of deep breathing. I put down my phone, I ignore facebook and text messages and the tv, and I pick up the Xbox remote and play with my son or challenge him to a game of chess. I sit in the swing, next to my daughter and we just relax and breath together. I don’t care if the laundry isn’t finished. I don’t care if the floor needs to be vacuumed. I don’t care about shopping or rushing about. When Olivia died, I felt and still feel like a part of my own existence died too. However, that sadness has forced me to sit back and just be.
After a difficult night with Lil D, one in which he struggled to sleep and my worries over his recent serious medical diagnosis that I had tamped down in the busyness of living life came roaring back to the surface, I woke to a dull pain in my head as I readied him and took him to school. Afterwards, I stopped at Target to do some shopping. I saw a group of special needs adults on an outing with two caregivers. And while in the brief moment I witnessed, these adults seemed happy, even-keeled and engaged, and while it was good they were out in the community, it literally broke my heart.
Because every time I think I’ve accepted everything in my life, I realize I haven’t. I am still envious of others, I am still too often bereft of gratitude. We never give up on Lil D and his potential, his ability to learn and grow and adapt and hopefully advocate for himself. I never stop trying and pushing and making mistakes and doubling back again. I will never stop listening to him and to what he is trying to tell me about what works and doesn’t work for him. I will never stop expecting and demanding respect for him and carving out a life of dignity and happiness for him in his community. And yet we must be practical and be prepared for a future where he may need constant support and supervision. Where hopefully he can live and be with us, but be open to the possibility that his path may take him to some sort of assisted living facility. We must be ready for all of it.
But I am not.
When will the joy we feel from the blessings that abundantly overflow in our lives and the difficulties and challenges we deal with mean the same to us? We are all struggling with something. All of us. It’s so, so evident in what I am reading today.
So let me be envious of your struggles and you be envious of ours — envious that through our struggles, we are inshaAllah coming out stronger, more thankful and more determined to find our way through to a place where we are at peace.
Lil D already resides there, in that place I wish to be.