As we enter the second week of Ramadan, hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world continue to fast as a prescribed spiritual practice in the Islamic faith tradition. Last year, as a part of an ongoing journey within the interfaith movement and my own spiritual formation, I chose to participate in this month long act of spiritual observance. This year I chose to follow the practice again because of the powerful affect it had on me. Only this year, something feels different about the experience. Something feels off, unnatural, and confusing. So, on Sunday night, I decided to stop my observance of Ramadan. But, why? What changed?
By highlighting the benefits of my experience with Ramadan from last year and the subsequent changes it brought about it my life throughout the last year, I may begin to arrive at an answer. Ramadan profoundly changed my life last year. It has been by far the most powerful spiritual month of my life. It taught me about the relationship between food and drink and spirituality. It gave me the tools to eat more ethically and compassionately. This month also gave me a greater reverence for the mystery and beauty of the divine, the sacred source of all life. Read the rest of this entry
I could hear my heart thumping, racing wildly, twisting and turning uncomfortably, wanting to get out. I squirmed in my seat, attempting to find that right position where I could both see, but also hide from what I was witnessing. My thoughts were all over the place, non-linear, even illogical at times. And my spirit was distressed, pained by the many words and experiences from the night. The concepts of patience and universal respect were hard for me to maintain last night as I sat in Cortelyou Commons with dozens of other DePaul students, listening to Ann Coulter discuss politics, religion, and other social issues.
Her talk was entitled, “What Your Professor Will Never Teach You,” a purposefully suggestive title, but relevant as some students at DePaul, namely the College Republicans who invited her, believe that 100% of Political Science professors at this school are either liberal or “something other than conservative.” While I am a bleeding heart liberal, any allegation of that nature inspires me to reflect on both its validity and what implications such a lopsided Political Science Department might have on the students within those classes (and if the trend is contagious, students from around the country). Ultimately, there is a much more serious and less logistical reflection to be had; I ask myself how do I, as a person of faith, react and respond to a person like Ann Coulter and the views that she expressed so forcefully last night.
“This article was originally published on the DePaul Interfaith website on May 9th, 2011″
Late at night on Sunday, May 1, a text message notified me to turn on the news, if I wasn’t already watching it. So, I did. In bold type, which I assume many will never forget, the headline read, “Bin Laden is Dead.”
I froze, took a double take, and then it hit me: an era was over. This era was the narrative of terrorism as symbolized through the face of Osama bin Laden throughout the past couple decades. My immediate feeling was disbelief, and then it rushed over me; the memory of my seventh grade social studies class with Ms. Goodwin watching the news with my fellows students; the memory of sitting on my neighbor’s stoop that night over a lit candle, asking the hard questions and thinking about the even more difficult answers to the days events; memories of war and death followed, hitting me in the face with blood and screams of agony; all of these memories washed over me like an ice cold shower of suppressed pain. Read the rest of this entry
“This article was originally published on the DePaul Interfaith website on March 1st, 2011″
Life is often circular. Things come and go. The seasons rage and pass every year, as does the sun, which rises and sets each morning and night. Humans, too, can show patterns in their actions. It has been more than six month since I began fasting for the month of Ramadan in mid-august. The experience was phenomenal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My body, mind, and soul were reawakened to the purpose of sacrifice, thankfulness, and global family. Ramadan, as I soon learned, was about being conscious, aware of the unjust realities that surround us, as well as the beautiful gifts that are shared with us everyday. Conscious consumption is the most ethical consumption, not just of food, but of all we come across in our lives. Utility is a blessing and that which is used must be treated as such. While one stomach remains hungry, all humans remain hungry. These were some of the lessons I learned during my experience with Ramadan.
Unfortunately, the most common of our human patterns is forgetfulness. The month of Ramadan was unbelievable. The weeks following, I was on my game, remaining conscious and living thankfully. As time went, though, I began to fall into my old habits; I began to return to a culture of unconscious consumption. My portions grew in size, my thoughts before, during, and after a meal were rarely on being thankful for sustenance or on my fellow human beings who would go to bed that night with empty bellies. I didn’t notice, however; I was in community with others who were just like me: asleep. Read the rest of this entry