This Ramadan’s been different. It’s a version of this month that I didn’t imagine possible. There haven’t been any iftar gatherings or nightly prayers at the mosque. And our sense of community has shifted into an entirely virtual experience. It’s also been different on a more personal level for me this year – since I’m pregnant, I’m not fasting at all.
When I first realized what a huge shift in dynamic this Ramadan would be, I was pretty disappointed. I was already anticipating a big change next year after (God-willing) our baby boy arrives. So this Ramadan felt like my last chance in some ways. My final opportunity to experience this spiritual month as I’ve grown to know it. And I was really looking forward to taking full advantage of the community events that I’ll be less available for over the next few years. But instead, I’m getting some early practice doing Ramadan at home. And surprisingly, I’ve been enjoying it much more than I expected.
It’s definitely felt quieter than usual. With everyone working mostly from home and not leaving for the mosque right after breaking fast, my family has been rushing a lot less than we usually do at this time of year. This has probably been the most refreshing aspect of the month. While I do miss spending extra time at the mosque, the last few weeks at home has given me a new perspective on connecting with God.
Before Ramadan started, I was worried that all the changes would dampen my spiritual experience of this month. But somehow, being at home has done almost the opposite. Things are certainly different and it did feel strange at first. After a few days though, I started to notice myself appreciating this version of Ramadan.
The mornings feel so much calmer than they have in the past. So I’ve been able to squeeze more quiet spiritual moments in right at the start of my day. And praying at home with just my parents and husband has been such a nice way to end each night together. Although it’s not the same as any previous years, this change hasn’t been so bad after all.
Now that it’s almost over, I’m realizing that I wasn’t only disappointed at the beginning of this month. I was also concerned about how my spirituality would be affected. With all the newness of the situation, I wasn’t sure what to expect or how to show up yet. How does one do Ramadan in the middle of a pandemic?
For me, the biggest difference about the holy month this year is that connecting with God suddenly became more of a personal responsibility rather than one I could count on the community to easily help me fulfill. Thankfully there’ve still been so many ways to connect and gain spiritual growth online. But there have been far more quiet moments than usual too. Moments when I’ve had to decide to show up even if I’m on my own. And that takes a special kind of courage.
To sit with God one-on-one is an incredibly beautiful experience. It’s also quite scary though. Because taking time to be present with God also requires us to be present with ourselves. And as worthwhile as the experience is, it’s often uncomfortable at first.
Until this particular Ramadan, I never noticed just how vulnerable it can feel to be present with God one-on-one. I didn’t think much about how it pushes us to lay down the masks and armor that we usually wear each day. And how what comes to the surface when we do isn’t always pretty. The way that difficult feelings might start to bubble up. Like unfulfilled hopes and desires. Along with disappointments, frustrations, and challenges in our lives. And the fears and worries that we have about the future. Because it’s all part of what sitting with God invites us to do.
This seat doesn’t just force us to get uncomfortable for no reason. Rather, it offers us an opportunity. A chance to open our heart up and explore what’s really happening inside. To appreciate all the goodness within and also to recognize the pain.
Sitting with God can take us places that we’ve never been and places that we’ve been afraid to go.
It can break our heart in the process of healing it. That’s why it sometimes feels safer to do this in the company of others instead of all alone. Community can offer us a sense of comfort and security as we delve deeper into our relationship with The Divine.
So this year is stretching many of us to new lengths. It’s definitely been teaching me a lot about my personal relationship with God. And pushing me to practice trusting Him more fully. To keep taking steps forward even though the road ahead is uncharted territory. But having faith that He’s with and guiding me all along the way. That’s the only way I can keep going.
Yes, this Ramadan is different. For me, it’s opened up a new portal of connection. And finding an avenue to God available even in such an unprecedented situation has given me a sense of peace and hope that I didn’t know I was looking for.
What about YOU? How’ve you been feeling this Ramadan? And what lessons have you been learning? I’d love to hear your insights in a comment below this post or an email!
Peace and blessings,
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