Tuesday, April 05, 2005

In It Are Signs...

Maybe it was those long, cold Michigan winters that made me a hermit. A long and langorous melancholy would settle on me, heavy like a 300 pound bear. I shiver just remembering the gray skies, bone-chilling cold and streets muddied with dirty black slush, soiled by the passing of endless cars in the famous Motor City.

What did I know of seasons? I'm a California girl. Winter for the first 22 years of my life meant 50 degree whether and occasional rain. A warm sweater, a hot cup of chocolate and that endless California sky, or a trip to the San Francisco Bay were all I needed to lift my spirits. It was love and the stupidity of youth that did me in. I went to Michigan having no idea what was in store.

Almost two years ago, though, I escaped Michigan and headed back west to more familiar terrain, but it has taken me two years of the practically endless Texas sunshine to get myself back outside. I am just now starting to regain all that I had lost. Despite the fact that my husband is a self- described cave man (who at 52 can still out hike most teenaged boys) or the fact that we hike several times a month, it's been my children that have truly reawakened in me the joy of being outdoors, the necessity of being close to Allah's creatures. They reawakened my desire to live as naturally as possible.

Giving birth to them in my own home, on my own terms were the most empowering experiences of my life. Giving birth is indeed labor, but like many trials it has the potential to be a powerful and transformative experience. Like Islam itself, giving birth is about submission. You are no longer in control, Allah has created the body to do this work and it knows what to do. Fighting it hurts, only through finding your own rhythm your own deep meditation do you learn to ride the waves of contractions and experience oneness with your self, with all the women who came before you, who birth simultaneously with you and those who will come after you. It is awe inspiring . It is sujood inspiring.

To this day, I do not believe that I have experienced anything more pleasurable, more undescribably moving than putting my newborn baby to the breast and nourishing him from my own body. There is no drug that can give the kind of high that nursing your newborn infant gives. How could I not desire to return to the great womb of the earth after such experiences? Especially with my children pulling and tugging me outside. I've started to garden, rake leaves and watch bugs. The exercise, the smell of heavy clouds pregnant with spring rain, the joy of cultivating something, caring for it and watching it grow has made me a happier person a calmer mother and a better Muslim.

I now understand the importance of getting outside. We don't care for the earth simply because Allah (swt) has made us it's khilafa. We don't care for the earth simply because it is our responsibility. We need this earth far more than it needs us. No creature demands as many rights from the soil, the air, the water and the creatures that share those resources as humankind. It is perfectly in line with every other Islamic principle of balance that we should bear more responsibility in exchange for those rights.

Being outdoors digging in the warm dirt, playing with bugs and bathing in the tactile joy of prickly grass blades and comforting sunshine is an exercise in tawhid. We are a part of this great system that Allah (swt) Ar Rahman, Al Hakim has created. Sure, the plants and sunshine nourish our bodies, but they also nourish our minds and souls. Get outside! This is especially important my muhajabat sisters spending so little time allowing the sun to caress our skin and give our bodies the essential Vit. D we need to keep our bones strong. Homes are meant to be shelters from the elements that could harm us, not places where we hide from the elements that heal us. Whether its swinging and sliding with your children in the park, planting gardens in the yard or simply sitting on the ground. Go outside and engage Allah's creation. Surely, in the beauty of nature, there are signs for those who contemplate.

[10.67] He it is Who made for you the night that you might rest in it, and the day giving light; most surely there are signs in it for a people who would hear.

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