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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Sunday night ramblings

It has been a beautiful weekend. Clear blue skies despite weather forecasts calling for snow and freezing temperatures. Sunshine. More and more blossoming trees. It was also the beginning of Ayyam-i-Ha, a period of joyful celebration, community service and general cheer for the Baha'i community. The Baha'i calendar is composed of 19 months of 19 days each. That leaves four or five days over in the year, which we call Ayyam-i-Ha. Ayyam-i-Ha is a time of festivities and giving. Often gifts are given to family and friends. Dinner parties had. Live music and dancing. At the end of Ayyam-i-Ha, Baha'is begin 19 days of fasting from sunrise to sunset. We abstain from eating or drinking from sunrise til sunset, spending the time when we would otherwise be eating or drinking to pray, meditate and reflect. The fast, while physically challenging, is nevertheless a very special time. Not being a morning person, the only days when I am up before sunrise are days when I have been up all night or days when I am catching a flight. Like I said...not a morning person! But the fast gives me the opportunity to be up at that magical hour. To sit and pray and reflect and write before the sun rises; to watch it slowly pull itself up from the horizon into the hopeful sky; and to explore all those hours of the day when I would otherwise be wrapped in my warm dreamworld. It is also a time, for me, to experience what a large percentage of the world experiences every day: hunger and thirst. I have been fortunate in my life to always have food and drink. Living a life of plenty makes it hard to understand and feel true solidarity or compassion for those who do not have enough food or drink. The fast gives me the opportunity to experience, on a very limited scale, the feeling of not having my basic physical needs met. I feel it helps to keep me conscious of the world around me, and connected to people whose lives are vastly different from my own.

At the end of the fast Baha'is celebrate Naw Ruz, or New Year, on March 21st. It is a time of renewal and celebration of the beginning of a fresh spring.

I spent Friday night at a devotional gathering on the subject of generosity. The group that were gathered together for the devotional spoke at great length about what generosity means in their lives. They mainly spoke about financial generosity, predominantly in relationship to people who are homeless, which in northern California is a significant number of people.

When I think of generosity, I think of generosity with time more than money. Generosity of spirit. I think of the students back in Christchurch, New Zealand, who have been volunteering to shovel out people's driveways so that they can get in and out of their homes. Of my friend Pascale making full pots of hot water to prepare tea for her family and friends as a way of comforting people who have experienced a tremendous amount of trauma over the last week. I think of all the people who have given me rides, loaned me cars, taught me a new skill or invited me over to a meal when they knew I was low on funds as a student. I think of my mother who has been so supportive of me in every way this last year as I transition from one life into another.

After our devotional on Friday a large group of us went out for a delicious Persian meal to celebrate the beginning of Ayyam-i-Ha. On Saturday night many of us drove to a nearby town to join in an evening of lots of good food and live music and dancing. And this morning a different group headed over to the home of one of the families in our area to enjoy a beautiful brunch and commemoration of these important days together. I have been surrounded by great company and laughter all weekend long. This afternoon I managed to slip in a run in the golden sun before heading off this evening to enjoy the Oscars with a group of friends. We had a finger-food potluck, and lounged on comfy couches, enjoying the red carpet extravaganza and cheering for Colin Firth when he was awarded with a well-deserved Best Actor award, and for Natalie Portman when she received her Best Actress award. It was an evening full of laughter, excellent food, and joy.

I drove home reflecting on my present. On the community that has embraced me, and that I am finally starting to embrace. On my dreams. On my friends back on PEI. On the fact that my friend was offered her job in France, and is therefore now waiting to hear if I am actually going to come house sit for her and her husband back on PEI while they are away.

I have been learning the lesson of enjoying my current surroundings and relationships. I do not really like the city I am living in, and am quite certain that I do not want to settle here long-term. But I am also not entirely sure that going back to PEI right now is really the right thing for me. If a clear alternative were presented to me, it would make the decision easier. of course rarely are we given the next step while we still have one foot firmly rooted on the shore that we left long ago. I know that I must take a risk at this junction, and I am praying I make the right choice based on dreams and the future instead of fear of loss.

As I move towards another full week, I am trying to remain open-hearted and courageous. To make this next decision from a place of contentment and faith. Happy Monday! 

1 comment:

  1. Ariana, dear friend, my best to you, and your parents, at Ayyám-i-Há, and with each choice you make.--love, Jeff