4/28/2017 – general updates, ponderations

It’s April 28, 2017. I know I don’t need to iterate that, since it’s probably everywhere on the screen, but it’s glaring at me. I have only published twice in the last year, and less than 10 in the last two.

I miss blogging. I miss writing. I miss having more time to myself. But a lot has changed in such a short amount of time.

One minute, I’m grabbing a coffee on my way to class, thinking about graduation and getting excited for my wedding. The next, I’m grabbing a coffee so I can handle the day alone with my 7 month old little girl; my husband at his job in D.C.

I think about frames of mind quite a bit, how your daily experience shapes who you are and how you perceive everything around you.

I see the busybody grad student and think, “I wish I could go back there, so many dreams! So many possibilities.”

Now two years later I see her at the grocery store, baby in one arm and a shopping basket in the other. I see that she’s there during work hours and unbeknownst to everyone around, she actually does have a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree. But maybe that’s not obvious with her mismatched hijab, trousers, over-sized blouse and casual Nikes. Oh, and bouncing, relentless baby.

But I don’t give myself enough credit. I’m taking care of three, sometimes four or five other people. I cook, I clean. I tolerate. I’m not just a holder of proofs of education. I carried a baby for 9 months, often painfully and in sickness. I had that baby cut out of me unexpectedly one night, but she was still perfect. All 5 pounds, 8 oz of her. She is still perfect, even though her mother might not be.

I went through post-partum depression. A battle I still fight peripherally with anti-depressants and a variety of obsessions (oh, there have been plenty…lipstick, crochet, and iced coffee).

I take pains not to let my daughter look at screens so much, but hilariously, I’m always surrounded by them myself. Imagine telling your child to be quiet and look away, while you desperately seek escapism through your Instagram feed. Try telling your mother and father in law not to let the baby watch Television, while you plan to catch up on a Netflix show later on. Go on, laugh at me trying to cling to my habits and motherhood at once, I’ve done it. Then I’ve shrugged helplessly and continued on.

It’s a mad juggle, honestly. You can cook a perfect meal, do the dishes, some cleaning, and do laundry later. Or you can do laundry now, make a somewhat decent supper, do the dishes, and save the rest for later. You can sleep when the baby sleeps, or you can use that time to do something for yourself. You can go to bed early and be energized for whatever life has for you the next day, InshAllah, or you can watch a movie with your husband. But you can’t really compromise on being a mother.

That’s 24/7, 365 glorious, exhausting, completely incredible days of the year, InshAllah.

 

 

 

Soul Space Interfaith’s Reflections, Volume IV, Spring 2014

Soul Space Interfaith’s Reflections, Volume IV, Spring 2014

Assalamu Alaikum

I’m really pleased to share that my poem “Dunes” has been published in Soul Space Interfaith’s Spring 2014 Reflections. I really admire this organization, for a lot of reasons.

Here’s an excerpt from their “About Us” section:

“We are women, old and young, seekers all, keepers  of our own individual and congregational faith practices and wanting to better understand and honor the faith of others. We come to share experience and wisdom, to acknowledge distinctions, and discover connections among our faiths.  At present, we are women of the book—Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We welcome all women of faiths. In order to foster soul space among us, we agree to bracket religious politics and disputes for attention in separate venues.”

Thank you, Soul Space!

wintery shadows chase each other,

flying across my bedroom wall.

All they do is remind me of green grass,

roads, and hands entwined.

When once the moonlight caused such awe,

and the sunlight such excitement,

I retreat into dreams of day and night,

there, at least, I have not lost you,

and memories are sweet.

Nesha Usmani

Weakness of Emaan (Faith) & its Cures – Yusha Evens

“Hasan Al Basri (rahimullah) said that Emaan is not the substance of your hopes and wishes. It is not just what you aspire to be. You can aspire to be the best Muslim that you want to be. You can dream about making salah all day long. You can dream about Qiyam-ul-Layl all day long, and dream about being the best Muslim (sic). But that’s not Emaan. He (Hasan al Basri) said Emaan is what settles itself in the qalb (Arabic for heart), and then becomes manifested through the actions. ”

Emaan is 3 parts.
1. Belief
2. Belief that is affirmed in the heart
3. Belief that is affirmed in the heart, and then manifested through actions.

Moj Sumrak

Maybe the only way to love you,

is to leave and love you alone.

And the only way to thank you,

is to etch a farewell in stone.

If I put my regrets upon my back,

the weight would crush my bones.

But you just stand there watching,

and hating the load I carry

you don’t see how much I hate it too.

I know how tired and fed up you are

but I don’t want to say goodbye

Not after the mountains we’ve climbed

together.

Not after how much we’ve cried.

But if it will make you happiest, in the end,

I’ll take my leave, and I’ll tell myself,

that Loving is Leaving

And Trying is Dying

And Gratitude is best shown

with a farewell,

a finite etching in stone.

Nesha Usmani

Hand Gripping Sand

the pleasures of dunya

are sparkling white sand.

Soft and glittering

warm beneath your tired feet.

But watch as you gather handfuls,

squeezing your fingers against your palms,

gripping and grasping,

watch it spill from the very spaces

you thought would hold it in,

watch it catch the breeze and fly from you,

like it couldn’t get away fast enough.

Watch each soft, glittering, warm speck disappear

into the billions that look just like it.

And so you learn to be content with walking, sitting, playing, laying on it,

but never taking it with you,

Because you realize that when you want to go Home,

you’ll need to brush it off of you, anyway.

Nesha Usmani

Stars

Night does not come,

There is no star that radiates

darkness.

The window to the universe

is simply left open by a departing sun.

But the soft pink tips of night

do seem like an approaching guest.

The stars, so enticing, so rich and lush

in their seemingly infinite abundance, subhanAllah.

I wonder what they hide and what they distract from.

If Paradise is a few miles or a few dimensions above them.

If their size is a thousand times the earth or one-tenth of it.

How my heart still beats as they collide, explode, freeze and melt.

How I sink my nails into the dunya as galaxies swirl into the hungry maws of

holes in the universe.

How, no matter how severe the calamities are in the heavens,

the emptiness of the stomach feels more severe.

And all that my Lord creates, changes, and destroys

He does with the knowledge of the unseen,

which is always for the best.

But the chaos of the stars and planets combined cannot compare

to the chaos of the heart.

The sin and the greed.

The heedlessness and ignorance.

Impatience. Cruelty. Ego.

The fragility in decision making is terrifying.

And I think of the day my heart stops. And the Day all of this ends.

I hope I am not the only one who thinks like this,

like the greatest calamity is not any natural occurrence.

No. No burning star, no deadly meteor. No mysterious black void.

But the emptying of the heart in favor of the filling of hands.

The drop of an anchor in dunya; choosing this minuscule ball of water in space,

instead of waiting for something purer, unseen, un-defiled by shaitan

and the empty hearts of men.

Nesha Usmani

7/21/2013