Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winter Sea

The winter sea is indifferently majestic;
it is unconcerned with the city’s arbitrary nighttime gunshots
or upcoming contentious elections.
All it wants is to discover the shore’s bumps and old plastic chairs left by humans because the air got too cold, and to flood adjacent highways when possible.

The sea doesn’t care that you are empty inside, or that you go to it for a calming solace because nothing else is consistently good or peaceful.
All it wants is to protect its sunken treasures from prying eyes and the sun’s attempt to evaporate its surface.

When the sea is dark and the night prevents inquisitive eyes from distinguishing its edge on the horizon from the black sky, your soul won’t feel any more enriched.
The café lighthouses that are on the brink of being engulfed in its waves will not bring you closer to home.

The sea just wants to be left alone, moving heavy contents in and out of its unburdened heart.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When it Rains in Egypt, it Pours

And that's not a metaphor:

Flooded street beside our home in Alexandria

So when it rains here, it's hard to go out for leisure since many streets are in this shape - I guess no proper drainage system is in place considering it doesn't rain except in limited winter months.

Naturally since I can't go out as much, I've started noticing that the English channels on my TV keep playing the same things over and over: CSI (in all its forms), MasterChef Australia and lots of Sandra Bullock & horror movies (arguably the same thing).

Which sucks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Climbing Mount Sinai

If any of you remember this post, you'll know that one of the places I have always wanted to go was Mt. Sinai, the mountain that Moses (peace be upon him) is said to have climbed to talk to God. I've always loved the idea of going to a place that was so rich in history and meaning - but not just any history, my history. A history that I believed in, that was a part of my identity as a human being, and a believer in a line of prophets sent by God.

In early September I was fortunate enough to make that climb up Mt. Sinai with my husband. And it was absolutely the most physically challenging feat I have ever faced. The first half of the climb was tiring but not difficult. I can't say the same for the second half - every step I took up that mountain was exhausting, especially considering that we began our ascent in the middle of the night (3am).

But I regret nothing, it was shockingly beautiful to be climbing a trail in dead silence with a frighteningly large amount of stars staring at me from the heavens. And all we could see during the night were the stars and massive black shapes protruding from the ground - we were fully surrounded by mountains - Mt. Sinai being the highest of them.

Perhaps people who have lived all their lives around the majestic presence of mountains can't appreciate the kinds of heavy emotions attached to this experience. I had never before seen anything like this. As we were climbing and the sun was slowly rising, I began to see the peaks of all the mountains surrounding us. As far as the eye could see - nothing, absolutely nothing but mountains.

For a long time, I've felt that I haven't been learning anything new or going through new experiences. This was a new one. A stunning new one that left me speechless. All I could think of were the verses of the Qur'an where God says:

They say: "(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!" Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous! At it the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin. That they should invoke a son for (Allah) Most Gracious. For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget a son. Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (Allah) Most Gracious as a servant (Surat Maryam 88-93).

Seeing those mountains reminded me of how Great God is - a Greatness that cannot be measured or quantified. But it's a greatness that inspires all creations to recognize and praise their Lord. Even mountains, which in the sunlight were simple very very large mounds of rocks and boulders...even mountains feel that connection to God. It makes me sad to think of times when I haven't felt that connection due to negligence, arrogance, or other negative qualities I possess. Perhaps it's a silly question, but aren't more feeling than a mound of rocks? I suppose it's something that I have to continuously grapple with.

I wish I could elaborate more on the intensity of the experience, I wish I could take you that place where the shuffling of your feet and beating of your heart are the only sounds that matter. Where you realize that God is everything, and you are nothing.