Being flexible in life in community as a spiritual exercise; day 2 of Ramadan

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Yesterday marked the second day of Ramadan, and honestly the time spent fasting wasn’t all that difficult. I started the morning not so bright but early (pre-dawn) with a protein enriched shake and time to pray. It was peaceful and calm as I sat in my apartment and watched the sun rise into the sky. I thanked God for the shake and I thanked God for the beauty of a new day teeming with possible possibilities, and a chance to go to work and make a difference in the lives of others.
It was a good work day and some of my coworkers and students found out about me participating in Ramadan, I politely answered their questions to the best of my ability, and then one of my favorite students chimed in how he wanted to copy me and fast but with the intentions of losing weight rather than as a spiritual practice. And if a month wasn’t long enough, he said he wanted to fast for 2 months!
I didn’t lose my cool, but I did get a little angry with him because his intentions are wrong. He also happens to be a skinny dude already, so to lose weight on top of his already skinny frame would put his health in jeopardy. God I really hope he doesn’t start fasting.

After work, I took time to invest more time in prayer with God. I slowed myself down both physically but also spiritually, to get in tune with myself, to find my center, but also express from the truest parts of me what’s been going on to God. It seems in my times of connecting with God by way of prayer, life seems to pause and slow down in a good way, and given that prayer is communication to God why wouldn’t I want to talk to God!
I also was a bit tired so I also took a nap. Truth to be told, I am a big fan of naps; if I take a 40 minute nap I will be set for the rest of the day. And so, I napped for a while, and then I received a text from my bro Tim if I’d like to join him for Prairie Fest (local shindig in our town) and out of flexibility and wanting to hang out with him, I did! Because of some unforeseen events that came to be we got there later than expected, and yet I rolled with it.
I do find myself to be a very flexible person when it comes to plans in the heat of the moment, but if something is scheduled in advance and that day comes and the event is cancelled, I am thrown for a loop and I take it too personally. Still, being flexible in life in community was a bit difficult for me due to small waves of hunger pangs that engulfed my stomach.

But life rolled on and then it was time to eat! I was thankful to God for life in community as well as the salad I had, which nourished me and sustained me. My mind and heart returned to my center and I was able to brush off the bad vibes I had for things not turning out like I thought they would, and gratitude burst forth from every atom of my being.

So with all that being said, community / flexibility were my keywords on the second day of Ramadan. Thanks be to God, The Provider of Community, for friendship and fellowship with people I love the most.

Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,
Nathanael

P.S. Here are some pretty great links I found:

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Ramadan
Ramadan Etiquette Guide: How to be a Non-Muslim During the Holy Month
5 Ways Fasting in Ramadan Improves Your Faith

Making plans/Life happens sometimes all the time

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. ~ John Lennon

Truth to be told I like structure in making plans. I do have moments of spontaneity of just “going with it” some times, but I like plans and making plans. I, however, do not like hiccups in my plans, either personal or external, it works it way under my skin and I get irate and I have panic attacks because my plans have been thwarted.Yesterday was one of those days where nothing seemed to have gone my way. I did not like it, and I was worked up in frustration and anger for not getting my way. Yet grace was given to me by Jimmy, my foot in the door contact in Memphis and the I’m Sorry Campaign: Memphis edition. As soon as I realized I wasn’t going to be getting out to Memphis on my schedule (am I saying my too much? I just want it to bear witness to my internal chaos) and subsequently I wasn’t going to be able to cook for him or his roomies…he forgave me, he thanked me for communicating that I wouldn’t be there. He wasn’t upset! He was more full of grace to me than I was to myself!

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Now even though I am a cynical asshole to myself and to others sometimes, I get grace, I really do. Do I get it every time? Whether the getting grace or getting the nature of grace, no, but I’m trying to get grace like that on both accounts. I don’t write it off as southern hospitality as to why Jimmy was kind, I realize the grace I believe in so much of the times others do too, and when they extend that grace to me in moments where all my plans are shot down, it is a balm, it is a cool drink of water on a hot summer’s day. Grace, I love it, and need to extended it to myself more often equally as much as I extend it to others.

So here I sit on my couch in IL for the last time in 20 days contemplating grace and BEing in grace, and I like it. Any ounce of anger or frustration is gone. Life happens sometimes all the time, and I need to allow room for error, but I also need to allow room for grace to myself for things not going as I would have liked it to.

Lesson learned, moving forward and upward and down to Memphis. I’ll be there today, at least I plan on it.

~Nathanael~