It has been a trying couple of weeks. Long days teaching rambunctious inquisitive children in the midst of abstaining from food and fluids leaves one completely spent by the end of the day. However the day does not end. There is time for maybe a few minutes for a quick nap before the breakfast meal is prepared. By the time the meal is over, the evening prayer has arrived and after that additional prayers and recitations of the melodic words of the Quran.
Right now, in the middle of the night, with tiredness pervading, are some of the first quiet moments I have had in these last two weeks. I have taken the time to reflect and realized the month of Ramadan is already half past. Days of Mercy behind us as we continue on to through the Days of Forgiveness before culminating in the Days of Freedom from the Fire. I returned to the memories of the day before it all started and remembered its humble beginning.
As the sun sank that day I was captured by the grass. At the time I was not sure what it was about the grass that appealed to me but now I think I understand. Grass covers about 40% of the surface of all land on Mother Earth. We rarely think much of it and we never seem to care as we trample over it beneath our feet. It covers the ground. Of all life on the Earth, it clings to the ground and it never rises more than a few feet. It holds the soil of the Earth together and prevents it from being washed away. It provides a home for many a small creature and insects and blankets the ground.
The photos I made that evening two weeks ago depict a vivid atmosphere. However these photos are not of the setting sun or the ocean of fog rising up to engulf where I was standing or even of the stark and colorful sky. These photos are of the simple, unassuming and humble grass that stands between looking on and quietly fulfilling it role in creation. Come winter when the rains come, the seeds from the very stalks depicted in these photos will germinate and will bare witness to the re-birth of a “dead” land. It is then that the greatness of what humility is will be revealed.
For now however, we just need to wait and continue along our path hopefully learning how to be as humble. What we hope to reap from our humility on the Day when all Debts fall due, will be great. As the great scholar, Abdul-Qadir Al-Gilani, of days past said in a book he wrote that I read years ago (I paraphrase) “I attempted to enter Paradise from all its gates, charity, prayer, fasting, and so on, only to find them all crowded until I arrived at the gate of humility and found no one there and so I entered through it.” That always amazed me. We all try to rise up and stake our claim to something in this life. It might be wealth or status or knowledge or any number of things that prove our unrelenting hubris. And yet, what is asked of us by our Creator is nothing more than humble submission and obedience. We have such a hard time doing and being something so simple. Look at those photos again. Do you see anything anymore besides the grass? I thought not.
Thank you Grass for reminding me of my place.
Peace to you all.