Performing Salah: Bowing to 2011


“People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think
that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time.”

-C.S. Lewis

“I want to tell you about love… Even the word, ‘love,’ is not adequate
to define the force that wove the fabric of space and time.”

-Drew Dellinger


“Asking good questions is half of learning”

-attributed to Muhammad


When 2011 began, I made some plans and I set an intention.  My plans included concrete things like moving out of the shed where I’d lived for 11 years (a great story, but different blog) and meeting a great man with whom to share my life.  My intention was to actualize these plans (and others) while trusting fully in the practice of grace. Grace?  For me it means trusting that I don’t have to, “make it all happen,” or be, “in control,” and that, quite possibly, by asking for help and being a bit vulnerable, Ease, Synchronicity and Confluence ably offer a better picture than the limited one I would’ve created on my own.


I think we all agree: 2011 has been busy.  Grace-filled victories reminded me throughout Spring and Summer that, even in the more stressful moments, I was learning to trust life in a new way.  It stretched me!  It felt good!  And then, I got my heart broken.  With no explanation, a story I was loving just stopped and like a science fiction movie, part of the universe opened-up and pulled me into an abyss of blackness.  I hadn’t felt grief this painful since…oh, right.  Since the last time was heart was broken.  Tearfully, stubbornly, I refused to let go of the grace….


A week later, during the closing ritual for the Islam module at the school where I work, I was invited to participate in the Muslim Call to Prayer – an embodied submission to Allah that happens 5 times a day.  It was in the act of dropping to the floor and submitting to, “the Other,” when it rushed in and shook me to the core: “I do not WANT to submit to something else!  Have we not been through this?” I bellowed to my inner cast of characters.  “So many years of grappling with, defining and RE-defining my relationship with the Who or What, ‘Out There,’ for whom I must prostrate and bow to!”


Tears of recognition.


Grace.  I am bowing to grace!
I am bowing to all that I cannot control
and I am bowing to that which I cannot radically accept: being rejected and being unable to ‘fix it.’  I am bowing to the no guarantees
and life’s uncertainties.


Myself.  I am bowing to myself and I am bowing to
my ego’s wish
that everyone else were more like me.  I am bowing to my tendency
to compare my path to others – particularly those
who never seem to need
to bow
to anything much
at all!!!
I am bowing to my fear that they may know something
that I should know


I am bowing to the seduction of fame,
and a latent panic
that my life and work will not amount to anything


I am bowing to my alienation from the All.
I am bowing to Everything,
and I am bowing to No


I am bowing
and thrashing
and sobbing.


I am bowing to the Powers that always win
and I’m bowing to the
that we will discover another way; a different way;
a better way.


I am bowing to my ambition. I am bowing to a sometimes-wish I feel to,
“check-out” and to let others
carry the load – YOU be the do-gooders for awhile!!!!


I am bowing to my desire to know love and wholeness,
and I am bowing to the place in me
that may forever hunger and thirst simply so I might bow again and again and again.  I am bowing to my contradictions.  I am bowing.
I am bowing.


In a mother-to-be’s womb, the amniotic fluid is changed every 3 hours, or 5 times every 24 hour cycle.  This is one reason Muslims pray 5 times a day.  Each day, we are invited to tend our wombs: to grow the seed of the Divine within, to labor with the Divine as we give birth to and celebrate our True Nature. Gracedidn’t promise I would get to choose; grace promised to hold me in the process of all that is.


I bow to the answer not-yet-found, the direction not-yet-known, the hearts of others not-yet-ready.  I bow to the possibility of NEVER knowing.  What else can I do?  Thank you, 2011, for all that you have been.  I bow to you.