“I love everything!”
Hearing my six year old daughter call out these words, her voice filled with the joy of the truth of them, I turned to look at her. She was twirling around in circles, eyes closed, her arms spread wide to embrace the coolness of the evening. I felt a little sad, wondering when we lose that childhood exuberance that enables us not only to love everything, but to spontaneously share that feeling with the whole world. Then I thought maybe we don’t lose it, we just have to get in touch with it and allow it to show itself. With that in mind, I looked around with my heart and my soul, instead of with my eyes.
The children and I were up on the roof, enjoying the coolness of the evening after a particularly hot, still day. While the heat of summer has passed, the sun still does its best to make sure we don’t forget that it remains a force to be reckoned with. We tend to stay inside for most of the day, waiting for it to take its nightly dip into the sea. When the moon, the kinder of the two sisters, rises, I sometimes feel its call and, gathering the children, climb up to the roof to greet it.
Tonight was one of those nights. We had brought up some balls and jump ropes, and the girls were taking turns jumping while little Mu’aadh chased a ball under and around the clothes hanging on the lines. Six year old Maryam was alternately looking at the moon through a tiny telescope and running around in wild circles, laughing and chanting jump rope rhymes. Baby Asmaa had a hold of one of my hands, and with the other she clutched a ball to her chest as we walked around in circles, me pointing things out to her and her answering me with her babble of baby talk interspersed with real words in English and Arabic.
My heart spoke up, reminding me of the immense blessings I have been given. The children were all happy and playing. The heat was gone and a small breeze played simple yet constantly changing tune as it strummed the tree’s musical leaves. The moon, almost full, appeared to be sliding backwards in the sky as some low flying clouds raced forward underneath it, playing a game of celestial tag which no one ever won. I heard the laughter of children, singing and beating monotonously on a homemade drum. The sound of cars far away on the main road brought to mind childhood nights at my grandparents’ house, cuddled beside my mother listening to the lonely sound of long distance trucks swooshing by in the darkness to some point unknown. Looking out over the balcony I saw lighted windows in every house, and felt the silent companionship of my neighbors.
I simply stood, listening, feeling, and breathing in the night, and I felt the quiet joy that pervades the heartbeat of life on this beautiful planet. Picking up Asmaa, I slipped into its welcoming arms and silently, thankfully, we began to dance the voice of the night.