Thursday, March 19, 2009

Silence, revisited

I don't talk. I realized that I just do not talk. I am home on my own in the day time either to work, study or do nothing. Then I go to my evening classes. I walk silently to my bus stop, wait silently for it, remain silent on the bus, and then I reach my school. I might, or most probably might not, exchange a "Hi" or something in the rare case of exchanging eye contact with anyone. They must see me as weird, but it is just that there is nothing to talk about with them or any thing in common. I sometimes remain silent when it is a group project cause it is not worth it to say much or defend my point of view; and I hate to boast anyway, so I just watch. Cause it really is not worth it. Then I take the bus home, have dinner and sleep. And on go the days. Friends? I do not have that at the moment and not sure that I can open the door for that again. Neighbors? None. I barely see them. Family? well, they are in a different country. Kids and husband? Yeah, they bear me and maybe this is where I can be myself and take away most of the layers I hide behind when I am with strangers. I even do not share my good or bad days on Facebook cause it does not represent me much as it represents my mission. So, there you go. I speak only when I write; that is my true voice. And when I don't, then it is back to silence again I think. Do I regret this seclusion? I am not sure I do. Enduring that is ten times easier than missing others, waiting for them, being tormented for their absence or misunderstanding, or expecting them to be there an understand all the way through. Angels do not live on earth, and since I am not one myself and certainly have my limitations, then I decided to remain silent. But hey, I talk to myself sometimes; all the time actually. I think and meditate. I listen way more. And that is making me a better person I hope. Happiness? Well, this is very relative and does not really belong on earth. It is waaaaay up there you know!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail"

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." Harold R. McAlindon

I went through a unique experience a couple of days ago and since Adage is in the fabric of my life and thoughts, I could not resist relating that experience to it. I hope that you would not mind that I share this with you.

I live in Western Canada where the weather is exactly as brutal as it is in the Arctic sometimes. The coldest it might get in Europe, Russia, or even the U.S. is say -20? When it is so where I live, we go out with unbuttoned jackets and call it a mild winter day. I have witnessed the -30s, -40s, and even -50s and because I know that this is not easy to imagine or comprehend let this story explain to you what that is like. The other day I heard in the news about a young lady who collapsed on the sidewalk because she was not dressed properly for the weather. She was barely alive when she was found; her lips were frozen shut, limbs frozen stiff, and it took hours in the hospital to literally “thaw” those limbs back to life. She survived after all, but lost some fingers and toes because of the frost bite! I didn’t fully understand how Hellfire will have seasons of summer and winter till I experienced myself how such weather can actually burn skin and severely damage it. I had such burns on my face when I was not smart enough to cover it one day.

So now that you got the picture, let me get back to my story. It was -36 the other day and I knew that I had to bundle up for the weather when going out. To able to go to my evening classes, I have to walk for a distance of around 500 meters to the nearest bus stop. In the summer, such a walk is a pure joy especially when I am surrounded by luscious green grass, three beautiful clear ponds, nourishing sunshine, and refreshing breeze. It is a long, winding walkway through soft hills that surround houses in my new neighborhood. But it was not so that day. Not long after I was out of the door did I realize that the weather was the least of my concerns. I totally forgot that people who have to work outdoors are legally forbidden to do so when it is below -20. That meant that the walkways were not shoveled and that no one cleared the walkways! Now, after a heavy snow storm that lasted all through the weekend, I am talking here about deep soft snow that has been accumulating for days. After about 100 meters, the walkway gets very steep. It was hard enough to carefully tread on snow, but as I went on, it got deeper and deeper that I found my boots scooping up snow that reached up to my knees; and I am by no means a short lady! Imagine walking in a desert where sand surrounds and paralyzes you as it grips firmly every step you make. But sand is kind because it does not freeze your limbs! It got very scary as I struggled to go on because there was no path to follow. I had to depend on my memory sometimes to remember where to walk. Each time I took a step, my feet got so deep in the snow that I could not get it out and I had to follow that with another step with the other foot to keep my balance. I almost fell so many times and stopped even more times to think of what to do next or where to go. I could not go back; it was too late by then. I had to keep going. I noticed the traces of someone who was there behind me but it was no use to step on those very traces because they too were equally deep. There was no human being anywhere around me to help and I thanked God that no one was there to see the mess I was in. My long skirt kept getting stuck in the snow, my leather handbag was frozen and stiff, and my long boots kept scooping up the snow that chilled my knees and spine; but I had to go on. At that point I completely forgot about the cold and after a long and chilling ordeal, I finally made it to my destination but was left gasping for air that seemed like daggers of freeze stabbing my lungs.

The next day, I dreaded walking there again, but I could not escape it. It was still not easy, but the fact that 24 hours followed the first time on that snow meant that many people have already been there. I literally saw what it means to walk where others have “paved the way” for you. As many people walked there, the snow got leveled that the walk was relatively much easier. I was not the only one there anymore. Others have been there before me that day and defined the walkway for me. I kept watching the snow as I walked and this is when I had the eureka moment of, “This is exactly how it is like in Adage!” Everything seems difficult and almost impossible now. We are defining guidelines, setting standards, and building everything from scratch. We are doing everything we can to provide professional resources, recruit people, learn more and implement it. But none of us did this on his/her own before. No one has shown us the way. We just had the will and unyielding trust in God that this is what we are meant to do with what we know and can do. Years from now, it will be much easier for the generations to come, the languages that will follow, and the members that will join, to proceed and go on. It is simply because others have done it the hard way and paved the way for them. Going alone, like I did, was physically excruciating and mentally dreadful just like it is draining here in Adage to work together to come up with ways to build and improve it for those who will follow. But it will not be so for long God willing; at least not as we pave the way together. I do sincerely believe that we now the pioneers that will keep gaining the reward of those that we are striving to make their lives easier.

That very thought made me stop looking at my destination. I did not have to worry about that anymore. Each step we make now counts. There is no point in worrying about tomorrow when we keep doing what we can for this cause. We are certainly no ordinary people when we believe in God’s aid and strive to please Him. The comfort and reassurance are all in His words, “God does not charge a soul except [according to] what He has given it. Allah will bring about, after hardship, ease.” (65 [at-Talāq]: 7)

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْساً إِلَّا مَا آتَاهَا سَيَجْعَلُ اللَّهُ بَعْدَ عُسْرٍ يُسْراً