As our time here in Yemen begins to wind down, I find myself more and more often reflecting on all that I have experienced here, all the knowledge I have gained and the incredible people I have met. I feel an intense connection to the land and its people; so many facets, so many faces, and so many I have not had the chance to encounter. When the plane takes off, heading back to America, I know that I will be leaving a little bit of myself in this stark, beautiful, Muslim land; and that a piece of this place and these people will be traveling with me, nestled in my innermost heart.
With the sadness comes a feeling of intense gratitude. So many roads walked, so many experiences I have been blessed with that I could never have imagined as a child staring up at a thousand stars in a Wisconsin sky, or even later, as a young mother listening to the cry of coyotes as the heavens rained down in a shower of fiery meteors, striking the jinn out of the pre-dawn sky. So many homes in so many different places throughout the country- a small mud house in a village with no electricity or running water, a beautiful tower house in the heart of Old Sana’a, a tree-shaded house near the coast of the Arabian Sea. So many people who have touched my life and changed me- Sheikh Muhammad al-Imaam and his wife, Umm ‘Abdur Rahmaan, Umm Salamah as-Salafiyyah, Umm ‘Abdullah al-Wadi’ee, and my other teachers- so full of knowledge, so full of wisdom and insight. My students throughout the years, striving to gain knowledge of their religion and implement it, making Islaam a reality in their lives.My daughter in law, Hiyaat, a strong spirit in a small package. Suhayb, who looks so much like his father but who has a beautiful, wild personality all his own. Baby Yasmeen, who I have only heard but who I long to hold in my arms. My own children, both the ones born here and the ones who made the move with us, who grow and change every day and always surprise me and remind me of what is important.
So many blessings, hung in the night-kissed sky.
Sukhailah and Maryam, two of my daughters, are featured young writers at Little Pickle Press. To read their thought about gratitude, click here.