We are reaching the end of Ramadan 1434 (or 2013, if you prefer), which, among the routine customs and traditions, has made me reflect back on how I see it.
Maybe it’s the influence of having a childhood set against a largely Catholic backdrop, but there are aspects of Ramadan that forever remind me of the poem “Advent” by Patrick Kavanagh. Having studied it at school, it fast became one of my all time favourite poems. Advent signifies the period of time of in ‘preparation’ of the coming of baby Jesus, in most Christian traditions. I ask my reader to cast aside these notions and instead, focus on the poem itself, as I see it.
We have tested and tasted too much, lover- /Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.
In the fast paced world, we are forever rushing to keep up. The exposure we have to everything, the raw cogs and wheels that run our lives and lead to inevitable heartbreak. The innocence of childhood is long gone
…the dry black bread and the sugarless tea/ Of penance will charm back the luxury/ Of a child’s soul…
Firstly, Ramadan for me is a time where routine is simplified. Obviously, by the removal of one of the meals I’d usually have in the day; but also simplification of thought. To clear my mind and so to purify the thoughts I allow into my mind, as well as touch my heart.
…the newness that was in every stale thing
When we looked at it as children: the spirit-shocking
Wonder in a black slanting Ulster hill
Or the prophetic astonishment in the tedious talking
Of an old fool…
With clearer minds, we are able to see the world around us anew. I can’t help but feel that, in doing this, Ramadan becomes a period of thankfulness. In the light of everyday wonders, we are filled with gratitude for everything, from the rise and fall of our chests as we breath, to the foods in our plate, to the precious company around us. Water, of which we waste gallons unknowingly, becomes as precious as the elixir of life; the changing of the colours in the sky becomes a mesmerizing enigma.
God we shall not ask for reason’s payment,
The why of heart-breaking strangeness in dreeping hedges
Nor analyse God’s breath in common statement.
For many, my self included, Ramadan is a month of increased worship, and inevitably, penitence. I reflect, I accept and in asking for forgiveness, I can learn to forgive myself.
I’m no expert, or religious scholar, so I can’t even begin to explain in detail the bounty of blessings that this holy month showers upon us. Most of all, I find Ramadan to be a month of trying, and perseverance. I try my best to do all the things I’ve mentioned above. Like everyone else, I’m looking for internal peace and a balance in my life. Ramadan is a good time as any to try. And God knows I’m trying.
You can read the full poem “Advent” by Patrick Kavanagh here.