Every April, we congregate in the evenings for seven days to say special prayers for those around the world who are in difficulty. We do this twice a year. During that one week, the jamatkhana parking lot is generally quite full as lots of people come through to take part in the collective act of remembering God. This year was a special year as the week fell close the holy month of Ramadhan. Ramadhan is observed by millions of people around the world through acts of prayer and charity that recommit us to the faith of Islam. So the month felt heavy with meaning.
On my first day, I parked my car in my near usual spot, having arrived early enough to beat the large crowd. In one of the landscaped planters nearby, I noticed a sitting goose. She was in quiet repose, having placed all the weight into the ground. She wasn’t moving very much.
The next day was the same. Only, someone had gone ahead and placed a porcelain bowl of water in front of her.
And the next day, orange cones had appeared around her as a warning sign to those in the parking lot to respect her space.
She was in prime nesting season.
And so for every day that week, I would walk by (not too close. Canada geese are the testiest of creatures, especially when they’re nesting) and see her sitting. Sometimes she would be adjusting herself. Other times, an intrepid crow would be helping itself to the water from her bowl.
I named her Malek. Because we must name the things that we see to give them meaning. It’s a name that’s found several generations before mine. And in Arabic, it means “owner.”
So our visits continued for a full month, or maybe more. After the week of prayers, I would visit every Friday. Not much about her condition changed.
Then one day, in late May, a gander appeared in the parking lot. His slow amble around the perimeter of the nest told us that something was about to happen. We were close to delivery and he was making sure that nothing would disturb the upcoming birth.
I am not quite sure when the goslings were born. But one day I arrived at prayers only to find that the water bowl was gone. And all that was left was pieces of shell. A friend sent me a video soon after. Malek had given birth to five goslings. They clambered on top of each other noisily, trying to get their parents’ attention.
But that was it. And no more.
Every single day, we have the opportunity to witness miracles. Some of them, our own. Others, belonging to other people. And still others, belonging to the natural world. It is no miracle that we’re here today. And no miracle that I was tied to the narrative of something outside of me.
I invested my time in the witnessing of something else’s miracle. And that fuelled my happiness. And for a short time endowed my weekly visits to prayers with extra meaning. I was witness to he world’s natural order.
And in the end, it’s always temporary. I’ll never see Malek or her geese again (I wish I had a chance to name them too!), nor would I recognize if I did. It is up to us to find those pockets in which we can view the world slightly differently. Where we can name and create meaning for ourselves. Where we can connect to every greater and ever smaller. These areas in between is where life’s dull thrum becomes a vibrant heartbeat; the pulse of which assures us that we’re not alone.
Some more on miracles and things:
Mary Oliver on Happiness - Brainpickings
How to be invisible by Akiko Busch - New York Times