Monday, November 28, 2011

On finding temporary housing-- and faith

With the countdown of thirty days until closing passing faster than we ever could have imagined, we knew there was no way we could house-hunt, inspect, appraise, and get approved for a loan all in time to transition from house to second house. Besides, I didn't want to. Owning a house helps you realize how heavy an anchor it is. A beautiful anchor perhaps, one you plant roses around, but an anchor tying you down nonetheless. I wanted to be free.

But I didn't want to be homeless. And with four days left until closing with no place to live we were beginning to quite seriously panic. We wanted to rent where we might want to purchase, a place that was walkable and community-friendly, but there were no rentals to be found, the few we did wanted multiple year leases and no leeway for breaking a lease early. We drove up and down streets, culled Craigslist, and asked everyone we knew [and many we didn't] to no avail. We hit up the apartment complexes and the corporate feel left us cold as did the add on fees for clickers, stickers, and flickers that left us nearly dizzy as we tallied up how much they would actually cost us. And the termination fees-- harsh.

Dejected. In tears. With just days left to go before closing we headed to our son's favorite park after a day of fruitless searching just as the sun began to set. Unable to find parking in the usual spot we parked on a different street. Through choked back frustration I said to K, I feel like there's a perfect spot for us but we can't see it. K nodded, "we need serendipity." I nodded feeling silly and foolish for hopes such as these.

And then it happened. As we went to our car, K paused. A sign. For rent. Quickly I called the number. Aisha?! The person responded incredulously on the other line. A classmate from law school. The flat was immediately available, affordable, steps from everything including my son's favorite park-- and because of the connection with my law school classmate, the landlord agreed to allow us to leave early if we gave her sufficient notice. We signed on the dotted line.

Serendipity yes. But is it more? This is the thought that's been nagging me for some time.

When things go right in my life I'm inclined to thank a Higher being for watching out for me. The house selling, finding a condo, it's Him.  It's always been that way. I can look back at the trajectory of my life and I can't see anything good that happened and not see the immense fortitude that, I believe, is not pure happenstance. When things went bad I trusted that same higher power and believed in a purpose, if anything, to make me stronger.

And then I was hit with some missile-like painful moments that spun me into a tailspin and made me question everything-- people handing me prayers to recite and intonations that it was God's will only made things worse. It's been years but I still finding myself crawling out of the hole, trying to grasp back onto the closeness I once felt to my Creator, and to the ability to trust that the universe is unfolding as it should.

The problem is, when I tailspun, my bubble popped. I looked at children suffering, hard-working people homeless, good women in abusive marriages. . . the more globally I looked, the more I had a hard time making sense of it all. Tragedy abounds with such abundance that I don't know how to say, oh thank God I found an apartment while someone is saying goodbye to a mother they knew all of four years.

And yet-- I've found that some of the people who have seen some of the worst things in life are also some of the most spiritual people I've ever encountered. While I cannot make sense of the unfairness that life has given them in debilitating health, or tragic life circumstances the fact is, they are at peace. It emanates from their very core. They, despite everything life has hurled at them, believe in a higher power-- they see blessings in what I see as nothing but bleak depression.

And I realized, I only live in my own body and only know my own circumstances completely. Who am I to say who has been wronged or who has been done right or the blessings they have faced? I'm beginning to understand, that while its natural to wonder why, I don't know anyone else's life circumstances but my own. I cannot question anyone else's understanding or experience or how they made their peace because peeking in through the window I am given, I cannot know the full story. The only story I know, is my own.

Religion has a funny way of giving everyone an opinion on how its supposed to be. Dogma litters every faith as people tell you what it is to be loved by the Supreme Being and try to collect blessings for entrance to paradise like second graders collect stickers for the Friday treasure chest. For so long I let other people's interpretation of my faith and their judgments on how I practiced it distance me from the very thing that centered me all my life.

But now I've realized-- I cannot live my life according to the way others interpret my faith. I cannot wonder why why I have something fall into place for me when it does not fall into place for others. Some of these 'others' abandon a belief in a higher being, some cling tighter than ever to the concept. Why? How can I possibly know. I now realize I cannot stand on a prayer rug filled with anxiety of the state of my toenails or the style of my recitation. I have only my life, and my perspective, and my unique relationship with my Maker. It's a personal one, and when I cup my hands in supplications-- its only One who hears.

I am thankful I finally understand this. I am thankful that I see His mercy on a condo in a walkable city, two butterflies playing amidst a row of sunflowers, and that despite my ever imperfect flaw-filled self, a self that is surely judged by many as not faithful enough, not practicing enough, that its not them who have the final say. I know my faith will ebb and flow, because even Angels ask, I'm just thankful for today, for taking ownership back on my faith and what it means to me.

Curious for your perspectives on faith, religion, and spirituality? How do you reconcile your difficult moments be it with faith, or without? Do you believe their is a purpose to it all?

12 comments:

Anne R. Allen said...

What a powerful post for Thanksgiving weekend. It's all about being grateful, I think. Disaster teaches us to be grateful for what we have left--our lives; our community. Abundance, on the other hand, can teach us to be grasping, angry and mean. When good things happen, I try to tell myself I was given this gift so I can pay it forward--give something--even if it's just a smile and a kind word--to the rest of God's creation. If we are all one, then our gift is their gift. We need to pass that on.

So relish your gift of good fortune. Just the fact you've thought this deeply about it is another gift as well, isn't it?

Aisha said...

Anne, I can't top what you said, your thoughts are pitch perfect, thanks for the reminder! And yes, the ability to self examine instead of blindly following is something I remain forever thankful for.

mystic-soul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mystic-soul said...

Like others, I have my weak moments too. And than from nowhere a sign popup and it feels like things have been taking care....

What a universal divine web we all live into, irrespective of race, color, gender, religion and age...

At one given moment everything seems accidental and chaos ...and next moment everything seems to fall in place...

Aisha said...

Mystic great observation to which the only response can be, Subhan'Allah!

Alan Howard said...

You almost don't need a comment, you already got it - "I have only my life, and my perspective, and my unique relationship with my Maker. It's a personal one, and when I cup my hands in supplications-- its only One who hears."
This is the essence of any religion including Islam. You cannot change the horrid state of the world or the horrible things that happen to you and/or others. You can only control yourself and your direct link to God. People can and will judge you, so long as you know where you stand - let them do whatever they will.
The horrors in my and my wife's life have been a challenge spiritually, but we get through because we aren't trying to impress anyone. We muddle through, because at the end of the day what choice do we all have?

kmina said...

I am happy for you to have found your unique stand before God. I think we all have our unique place before God, but not too many realise it. And far too many regard God as a granter of wishes and protector from evil. It should be more than this.
My relationship with God is just like my Maker, paradoxically simple and complex. I do struggle when it is not as straightforward as I expect it, but I am always happy that it IS there.

katery said...

i am not a religious person, in times of trouble (and happiness) i put my faith in family, friends and myself, which has helped me through so very much, i am very thankful for everyone in my life.

Aisha said...

Alan, I would love a post from you someday on how you balance your faith in a merciful loving God and the difficult [to put it MILDLY] circumstances you and your family are currently in. Thank you for your comment it gives me much to reflect on.

Kmina, I think for faaar too long I did see God as a wish granter-- and when wishes were not granted, or bad things happened, I thought there must be nothing-- but when did I get that concept that Higher Beings are my personal genie and bodyguard? I think for me it will be as it is for you paradoxically simple and complex-- I too am happy that though I may not always understand how the world works I now have a certainty that something is there.

Kate, thanks for sharing your own perspective, did you grow up in a very practicing household or did you change your views into adulthood? Having a support system to turn to is a beautiful blessing.

Faraaz Rahman said...

What a profoundly beautiful post. I think all of us can relate to situations that you have talked about and described - those moments of insecurity, lack of faith, moments of crisis.
I was amazed to find how similar we are because I have always found myself thank a Higher being when things go right, and feel very much at peace with myself and my Creator. However those extremely difficult moments make me question my faith. Like you, when I see so much injustice and brutality around me, it makes me question everything.

I guess it is part of the journey as a human being. I once read this piece written by a writer called Ali Eteraz. In moments of weakness, it helps me deal with it. Here is the link. http://alieteraz.com/poverty/

Anonymous said...

beautifully written. Your situation brought back memories of our hunt for a rental in Toronto back in the early eighties. Through a complicated series of events my husband and I ended up finding a flat in a house in Rosedale. I didn't realize until after we'd signed the lease that it was in the same house that years before I'd seen while biking and said " that is my dream home".
In retrospect it really was my dream home a cozy nest where all the most important firsts of a thirty year marriage happened. I still see divine intervention at work. Enjoy your new home fill it with love.
mak

awomanmyage said...

I'm a Buddhist, and I find my faith to be life affirming, hopeful and realistic. Yes, I've had terrible times but in the end, I came back to it because my community was always there for me with no judgment, no pressure and whenever I went to a meeting, I came home re-energized and hopeful. There are no fairy tale answers, only a way to find Buddhahood even the worst of circumstances. And since I have experienced this to be true, this is what I strive for.

Post a Comment

I love to hear from you!