Last evening as the girls cooked supper and my husband and I talked over plans, we heard the calls from various masaajid to come and pray the eclipse prayer. Mu’aadh, our eight year old, excitedly burst in and asked if he could go and pray. After my husband left I went in to the kitchen, and Juwairiyah asked if they could go up on the roof and see if they could see the moon. Of course, I agreed, and we all trooped up the stairs.
The moon was huge in the winter sky, like an exotic gem displayed in on indigo blue velvet. Exotic it was, as part of it was a glowing, luminescent white, while the other part was a startling, discordant burnt orange, almost red.
“It’s one gift after another,” I told the children. “Since we’ve decided to leave we’ve been treated with one amazing thing after another.”
A few months ago there was the rainstorm and the flash flood that turned the field next to our house in to a small, tumultuous river on the Eid. We hadn’t seen rain like that since leaving Sana’a two years before, having had to content ourselves with drizzles that lasted a few minutes, or stealthy nighttime showers of short duration that left the ground moist at Fajr. The rain was a blessing, and the excitement of the river that was spontaneously birthed right next to our house caused great excitement and something to watch all day, as children and adults alike played in the water. Truly a blessed Eid, different from any other we had previously experienced.
Then a few weeks ago, the turtle migration. Such a lovely experience, one that we may never see again. Even more amazing as it was totally unexpected, turning a routine morning walk into a reminder of the wonder of the Allaah’s creation around us. Knowing the condition of the oceans and seas, it was bittersweet as well, as I wondered what it must have looked like years ago when there were perhaps thousands of animals making the migration instead of hundreds- and what it would look like in ten years, when perhaps it will only be tens of them.
And now the eclipse- scientists say it will be the last lunar eclipse for two years, insh’Allaah. Eclipses have always interested and excited me, even more so once I embraced Islaam and heard the story of an eclipse at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allaah’s praise and salutations be upon him. It occurred on the day his little son, Ibraaheem, died, and the people thought it was in response to this. The Prophet corrected them, and called the people to pray as the sky darkened with the eclipse. He told them to look at it, and to imagine what it would be like if that light never returned. So it is a reminder to us of so many things, including the Last Day when we will all stand before Allaah and answer for our behavior here on Earth.
The suffering of my son and his family and the students in Damaaj has also been a learning experience for me, as well as a reminder. It is easy to say that we will have patience and simply trust in Allaah, but when we are put to the test we have to look closely at ourselves and see the truth of those words in our own hearts and lives. It has helped us all to remember how quickly things can change, and of how tenuous our life in this world really is. We see the beauty and generosity in the actions and prayers of so many people, and are reminded of the many blessings in our own lives.
So as we continue to pack and prepare to leave, every day brings some new awakening for our souls. My heart is torn in so many different directions…as one friend told me when I mentioned that the reality of the deaths of my father and sister would probably not hit me fully until I had returned home to find them gone, “I suspect you’re right that when you return to the States, you’ll find yourself grieving your sister and your father, and perhaps other life-passages as well.”
Life passages…adventures…journeys…the excitement of moving forward, into something new, and working to make it good and beneficial. The sadness of leaving so many things behind, colored with the knowledge that things change constantly, and next year could find us in Ma’bar, or even in Saudi. Hope for the future and trust in Allaah.
So many facets to my Yemeni Journey so far…