Thursday, August 2, 2012


It is always dark and a little chilly at dawn. We sit hunched in a circle on our praying mats and, although it is too dark and I am too sleepy, their voices sound like their faces are glowing. Mom asks forgiveness and Dad giggles; it is a half-joking half-serious ritual committed consistently every morning. Dad nods encouragingly at Mom so that she can start leading the prayers - the Indonesian part of the prayers.

She chatters forth quickly, her pauses not delivered at the comas or semi-colons, but at the end of her breath.  Dear God Almighty the most benevolent the most knowledgeable and the most. Forgiving please forgive our sins and the sins of our parents and the sins that we know of and. The sins that we do not know we have committed because we did not know and You are most. Knowledgeable Dear God and thank you we are grateful for all the blessings You have bestowed. Upon us...

The prayer goes on for 15 minutes. It is long and comprehensive. They say that when you pray for something you must be specific, so when people pray for a blessed life they leave nothing out. Not cars and holidays and worldly material, but blessing and forgiveness and health and clear visions and straight paths and, most importantly, "abundant fortune" - which humans can interpret as something material or something spiritual, but God would know best because He can read your soul and is Most Knowledgeable.

My boss quipped the other day during dinner, that we shouldn't pray too much lest God be weary.  "Especially Muslims!", he exclaimed. "we multiply God's chores by five times every day!"  I have that feeling when I am standing up by my office window looking down at the tiny cars and tiny people swarming by below. If I were God I wouldn't care about these ants. They are too many and too meaningless; and their problems are too petty. Unless I were inside them. One with them, part of them, each and every one of them. Then I would care but it would be less a matter of caring and more a matter of just Being.  Pulsating like a vein.

At dawn I appreciate the glow of their faces as they perform these rituals they hold so dear.  With a sense of urgency. As soon as the first calls to prayer can be heard, Mom urgently tells me to prepare. Quick! Quick! As if God couldn't wait. Dad's Arabic prayer and Mom's Indonesian prayer press upon me, forcing me to feel the calm that I should ideally be feeling instead of chilled and sleepy. They don't know that God is closer to me than my veins.

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