A few nights ago a storm front rolled across our little patch of the Ozarks, a sigh of relief after a hot spell that seemed to be lasting forever. While most of the leaves are still green, I do notice a tree here, a patch there, bursting into the song of Autumn. The garden still boasts a few flowers and herbs, as well as some carrots and swiss chard, and garlic and onion planted for a Spring harvest, insh’Allaah. We’ve bred one of our four does to a magnificent Alpine, and are planning on breeding the others as soon as they go into standing heat. We tend to think of Fall as a season of putting away and settling down, but here the world is abuzz with an undercurrent of expectancy, change, and hope.
Our Eid was beautiful, the prayer made under rain-freshened skies, our buckling baa-ing at us throughout, cattle lowing mournfully from afar, and the chickens pecking at our shoes. Whenever I hear the call to prayer echo across the valley my heart lifts as I am reminded of the eternal, undauntable nature of Islaam, a religion for every time, for every place. When I left Yemen, I left big chunks of myself behind; but the core of me, my faith and passion, are still here on our little homestead in the mountains, and Allaah’s Wisdom, Knowledge and Mercy are evident here just as they are everywhere else on earth. When people ask me if I miss Yemen, I have to say that yes, I do. But I am also reminded of the hadeeth wherein, when the Prophet Muhammad, may Allaah’s praise and salutations be upon him, died, Abu Bakr chastised the people and reminded them of the true nature of faith when he told them that those who worshipped Muhammad must know that he was, indeed, dead; while those who worshipped Allaah must know that He is Ever Living and will never die. So it is with our faith- it is not tied to a specific time, place, or personality; rather, it is able to live on, wherever we may be, and all praise is due to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds.
When I walk these days I think of the land, sometimes thin and rocky, and at other times dense and full of life, reading the earth beneath my boots with a sort of braille that transcends conscious thought. I think of the air that blows across the field and through our forest, bringing with it the scent of life and death, reminding me always of the people who have felt that same breath blowing on them in ages past, in ancient lands. I think of family and friends who are lost to me, but who still, somehow, live on in the warm embrace of my chest. I think of my neighbor up the hill standing solitary watch over a bonfire that burns through half the night, bringing warmth and life while holding the possibility of searing heat and death just below the surface. I think of Yemen, torn and battered and split and suffering in so many ways, yet still a place of generosity and strength, of knowledge and light, if one knows where to look.
I think of my mother, my sister, my father, my grandparents, and feel untethered, somehow, and don’t know what that means. I think of my son, and wonder if we will still know each other when he returns, and if he will recognize the beauty of winter and the dream inherent in the moon and stars.
In the midst of change, I hold tight to the rope of Allaah, and pray that it will see me through.