My Beloved Daughter….

My two elder children celebrate what we now call ‘milestone’ birthdays this year…my lovely daughter today! A very dear fellow blogger, after reading the post dedicated to my son’s milestone celebration, asked what constitutes a ‘milestone’ age….a very valid and relevant question in this age of quantifying days, events and emotions into Hallmark occasions…often relegating to the back burner the true essence of such celebrations…

For a mother, birthdays are special days of the heart…purely because looking out from the eyes and heart of a mother, whilst Traveling down memory lane…every child of hers’ birthday is a ‘milestone’ celebration! A celebration of awe…honor…joy…fun…comfort…strength…support…care…pride…consideration…above all, Love! A celebration of the varied and rich tapestry of life and living…of rich and joy filled moments shared together…culminating in a day such as this…as an appreciation of the fullness of human happiness in the security of our love! The journey of motherhood, with all it’s ups and downs…it’s highs and lows…the magic…the angst…the fun…the fears…the love…the laughter…all comes together with the peace of looking out and seeing them exactly where they are supposed to be…firmly ensconced in the space they have carved out for themselves! This is the ultimate joy and pride…the humility and thankfulness…yes…birthdays are poignant reminders of this…milestone birthdays perhaps a little more…

My daughter…my eldest…celebrates one such milestone age today…blessedly happy in the circle of love of her parents and  siblings…her own beautiful family….her extended family and her family of friends! In my  mind’s eye I can still vividly picture my serious little girl…she who has now blossomed into a  young woman of substance…her gentle vulnerability, humaneness and compassion being the cornerstone of this beauty, strength and independence…surrounded by the Good Lord’s blessings and grace…her gentle and winning ways…the strength and support of a loving life partner…understanding and giving due deference and balance to the blessings and power of the Divine has all helped her on this journey of hers…all of this whilst keeping pace with her own young ones on the threshold of adulthood…doing it all with an ease, energy and grace that leaves me in awe…

The pride at seeing you fulfill all your roles to such loving excellence makes my heart sing Saamia! This comes with the prayer that God draw you near Him…richly bless you always…and shelter you at all times in His loving care…help you conquer the many horizons still out there…live your dreams and achieve all your milestones and more! With a special prayer that your beautiful self and smile will continue to bring love and sunshine to all who love and surround you…and help radiate your life always with it’s unaffected goodness and love…amen!

Happy Birthday Saamia…

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The Glory and Joy of Ramadan…

The glory and joy of finding oneself once again, in the blessed month of Ramadan starts well before the actual month…the anticipation and preparation of an internal and personal journey is a step by step trek, and then before you know it Ramadan has flown by and we are in the last ten days of this month…within which falls Laylut-ul-Qadr…The Night of Power/The Night of Destiny …the night when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad…a time of harnessing great blessings! We approach these last ten nights with an heightened awareness of the gates of the grace and mercy of Allah being flung wide open for those found on this path…a culmination of the vigils of worship…

Ramadan comes with a host of glories…above all, that of a personal search, and…relating the fasting, the abstinence of the outer and feeding the inner…to an ultimate form of worship and connection between the self and Allah, with the sole purpose of attaining His pleasure and grace!  Ramadan starts out in an anticipatory mode…filled with a hunger to find new meanings for the self and personal growth through a form of pruning the extra leaves of your life…almost, as someone said, a ‘personal  body and soul detox’…pushing the envelope of the inner self in this deeply spiritual time of year…with a sense of joy to recharge the battery of your spirit and soul! More specifically, this time of year has a direct co-relationship with the space you occupy at the present point of time in your own life and through it, to come to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the Divine…a journey of better understanding and experiencing the purpose of the connection of submission to Divine Will…

On another level it is also finding new meanings in the fellowship of the family…community and society at large…finding harmony in the bigger picture…consciously increasing justice, charity and compassion in the spheres of daily routine…a continuing search for equity…fairness…empathy…patience…brotherhood…mindfulness…and personal excellence! Definitive in this process is internalizing to understand and carrying this personal and spiritual discipline beyond this blessed month…to raise personal awareness and consciousness of the Divine to an heightened sense of being…

His mercy and generosity spills over in a celebratory culmination of this month of devotional abstinence, search and worship…to the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr…a three day celebration of kith…kin…joy…sharing…color…food…love…laughter…manna for the heart and soul…the Good Lord be praised…

Today we also celebrate 65 years of my home counry…Pakistan! It was the month of Ramadan when we celebrated the establishing of this new homeland and identity all those years ago…the need of the hour is a collective will and consciousness to renew those vows of sincerity…honesty…determination and hard work and re-establish ourselves as stakeholders in this wonderful land of ours…

I have been away from the blogosphere and missing it…am now looking forward to reconnecting with my blogging family…stay blessed!

A Son’s Milestone Birthday…

Some favorite lines of mine from poems about sons are from A Soldiers Prayer for his Son by Gen Douglas MacArthur and Abraham Lincoln’s My Son…both these poems are poignantly definitive and have always resonated with Prayers for Children as also the prayer that I have been able to truly help my Children walk through life with the inner strength and integrity to do the right thing…knowing that nobody is going to know you did it or not! These cherished lines are from a treasured poem plaque my eldest once gave me
…sometimes when I think of Mom
I think of what she Took
She took a child and taught it how
To live this life with pride
She took the hands that longed to hold…
Her child and not let go
Used them to push her child along
The way to thrive and grow….

My two elder Children are celebrating what we now call…’milestone’ birthdays this year…my eldest son celebrates his today…and even though for me all their days are such…my thoughts go back to search…recall…review…tear over…reminiscence…with awe and a deeply felt sense of pure happiness at the wonder that has been my life as my children’s mother! This journey has been one of such incredibly powerful experiences in all aspects of my being…that it is by far my life’s greatest joy and blessing and gives me a sense of ‘non pareil’ accomplishment…and although I do believe that ‘having a child is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body’…often in far away lands…my children are all truly the joyous mainstays of my life…

Seeing this beloved son of mine live his life in a matrix of the search for excellence in all he does has been a learning experience for me too…his focus…commitment…hard work…humility…strength…choices…faith….accompanied by a compassionate and loving heart…has made mine sing so very  often…seeing some of his goals coming to fruition, specially now at such an opportune time in his life, makes my heart swell with pride and thankfulness…above all, his gentle concern…care…and love for all of us has truly been the icing on the cake…Khalil Gibran said….your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you, as by the attitude you bring to life…Not so much by what happens to you, as by the way your mind looks at what happens to you…I feel so very thankful to the Good Lord that you have understood this Usman…and pray you will always work to being the best that the Good Lord meant for you to be…believeing that the ultimate Wisdom of God is greater than ours and that we have to trust Him to guide and help us…Amen!

Happy Birthday Son…I feel so very blessed to have a son like you and in the language of your generation…you rock my world…

The Forty Rules of Love…(4)

As human beings our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world…as being able to remake ourselves…said Gandhi! Being in harmony with our hearts…beliefs…and Universal truths increases our ‘human’ potential and strength! Kindness in thinking…words…sharing…giving…allowing the laws of God to take precedence over the laws of man…creates profound pockets of love and confidence…and becomes a source of an exponential power! 

In this world of changing values…perceptions…priorities…we need to hold fast to the values we have grown up with…be unafraid to defend them…hold firmly to our tenets of belief and let them be our help and guide…but being able take the reins of our life in our hands requires a deep abiding commitment to stay the path…take personal moral responsibility for the space we occupy…believe in the ultimate wisdom of the divine…so that it can all come together to help us develop into our personal potential and greatness…

31. If you want to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside. For your faith to be rock solid, your heart needs to be as soft as a feather. Through an illness, accident, loss, or fright, one way or another, we are all faced with incidents that teach us how to become less selfish and judgemental, and more compassionate and generous. Yet some of us learn the lesson and manage to become milder, while some others end up becoming even harsher than before. The only way to get closer to the Truth is to expand your heart so that it will encompass all humanity and still have room for more Love.

32. Nothing should stand between yourself and God. Not imams, priests, rabbis, or any other custodians of moral or religious leadership. Not spiritual masters, not even your faith. Believe in your values and your rules, but never lord them over others. If you keep breaking other people’s hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good. Stay away from all sorts of idolatry, for they will blur your vision. Let God and only God be your guide. Learn the Truth, my friend, but be careful not to make a fetish out of your truths.

33. While everyone in this world strives to get somewhere and become someone, only to leave it all behind after death, you must aim for the supreme stage of nothingness. Live this life as light and empty as the number zero. We are no different from a pot. It is not the decorations outside but the emptiness inside that holds us straight. Just like that, it is not what we aspire to achieve but the consciousness of nothingness that keeps us going.

34. Submission does not mean being weak or passive. It leads to neither fatalism nor capitulation. Just the opposite. True power resides in submission –- a power that comes from within. Those who submit to the divine essence of life will live in unperturbed tranquillity and peace even when the whole wide world goes through turbulence after turbulence.

35. In this world, it is not similarities or regularitiesthat take us a step forward, but, blunt opposites. All the opposites in the universe are present within each and every one of us. Therefore the believer needs to meet the unbeliever residing within. And the nonbeliever should get to know the silent faithful in him. Until the day one reaches the stage of Insan-ı Kamil, the perfect human being, faith is a gradual process and one that necessitates its seeming opposite: disbelief.

36. This world is erected upon the principle of reciprocity. Neither a drop of kindness nor a speck of evil will remain unreciprocated. Fear not the plots, deceptions, or tricks of other people. If somebody sets a trap, remember, so does God. He is the biggest plotter. Not even e leaf stirs outside God’s knowledge. Simply and fully believe in that. Whatever God does, He does beautifully.

37. God is a meticulous clockmaker. So precise is His order that everthing on earth happens in its own time. Neither a minute late nor a minute early. And for everyone without exception, the clock works accurately. For each there is a time to love and a time to die.

38. It is never too late to ask yourself ‘Am I ready to change the life I am living? Am I ready to change within?’ Even if a single day in our life is the same as the day before, it surely is a pity. At every moment and with each new breath, one should be renewed and renewed again. There is only one way to be born into a new life: to die before death.

39. While the parts change, the whole always remains the same. For every thief who departs this world, a new one is born. And every decent person who passes away is replaced by a new one. In this way not only does nothing remain the same but also nothing ever really changes. For every Sufi who dies, another is born somewhere.

40. A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western… Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.

The Forty Rules of Love…(2)

The Forty Rules of Love have the potential to affect and change people from all walks of life…they can make absolute sense or push the boundaries of our beliefs, perceptions and prejudices…they can open up exciting opportunities to embrace this timeless message…they can propel us to find love and inspiration in unlikely places…above all, they force us to think…

11. The midwife knows that when there is no pain, the way for the baby cannot be opened and the mother cannot give birth. Likewise, for a new Self to be born, hardship is necessary. Just as clay needs to go through intense heat to become strong, Love can only be perfected in pain.

12. The quest for Love changes us. There is no seeker among those who search for Love who has not matured on the way. The moment you start looking for Love, you start to change within and without.

13. There are more fake gurus and false teachers in this world than the number of stars in the visible universe. Don’t confuse the power- driven, self-centered people with true mentors. A genuine spiritual master will not direct your attention to himself or herself and will not expect absolute obedience or utter admiration from you, but instead will help you to appreciate and admire your inner self. True mentors are as transparent as glass. They let the Light of God pass through them.

14. Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?

15. God is busy with the completion of your work, both outwardly and inwardly. He is fully occupied with you. Every human being is a work in progress that is slowly but inexorably moving toward perfection. We are each an unfinished work of art both waiting and striving to be completed. God deals with each of us seperately because humanity is a fine art of skilled penmanship where every single dot is equally important for the entire picture.

16. It’s easy to love a perfect God, unblemished and infallible that He is. What is far more difficult is to love fellow human beings with all their imperfections and defects. Remember, one can only know what one is capable of loving. There is no wisdom without love. Unless we learn to love God’s creation, we can never truly love nor truly know God.

17. Real filth is the one inside. The rest simply washes off. There is only one type of dirt that cannot be cleansed with pure waters, and that is the stain of hatred and bigotry contaminating the soul. You can purify your body through abstinence and fasting, but only love will purify your heart.

18. The whole universe is contained within a single human being—you. Everything that you see around, including the things you might not be fond of and even the people you despise or abhor, is present within you in varying degrees. Therefore, do not look for Satan outside yourself either. The devil is not an extraordinary force that attacks from without. It is an ordinary voice within. If you get to know yourself fully, facing with honesty and hardness both your dark and bright side, you will arrive at a supreme form of consciousness. When a person knows himself or herself, he or she knows God.

19. If you want to change the way others treat you, you should first change the way you treat yourself. Unless you learn to love yourself, fully and sincerely, there is no way you can be loved. Once you achieve that stage, however, be thankful for every thorn that others might throw at you. It is a sign that you will soon be showered in roses.

20. Fret not where the road will take you. Instead concentrate on the first step. That’s the hardest part and that’s what you are responsible for. Once you take that step let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will follow. Do not go with the flow. Be the flow.

A Celebratory Finale…

The better part of the last month has been spent quite literally in a celebratory finale of 2011…an overflow of the magic of being surrounded by love and loved ones…as my elder son wrote in his last blog post of  the year…I wouldn’t trade places with anyone else at this moment in time…my heart sings at reading these words of his…words I totally empathize with and relate to…words that make me proud…

I  dream of hearing just such words from all the beloved children in my life…most of whom were with me in this celebratory finale, those that were not were sorely missed…I dream of having such reunions more frequently…I dream of this bonhomie and loving relationship being a constant in their lives when we are no longer with them…I dream of welcoming their spouses into this circle of ties of the heart…I dream of telling their children stories of these memories and their magical charisma as I do with the grandchildren I have. Our lives are ruled by constants that survive time and space…universal truths, the rest is pure fantasy…I dream of positive constants in their lives to give them strength…understanding…compassion…endless joys! As they all return to their lands of residence, I dream they realize that the ultimate constant is God…that the joys that come from Him must not be confused and overwhelmed  by trite commercialism that passes for measures of happiness…

I dream that the coming year will be one of positive change for my country…I dream of leadership in the realm of ideas…I dream they will realistically translate into a sustained journey to taking back ownership of the only place that many of us always want to call ‘home’…I dream that despots in garbs of freedom stop defending religious bigotry, marginalisation, intolerance and bias  in forked tongues and under the mantles of  feigned and insincere sounding stands…I dream of peace and compassion for people across the world…I dream we understand and embrace  that across borders and races we share a common human denominator…I am a dreamer as also an optimist…I dream of seeing my dreams bear fruition…

In this celebratory time of bidding adieu to the year past and ushering in the new, we also celebrated my youngest son’s birthday with a host of loved ones and friends from all over and blissfully, all three of my children present…his relaxed and laid back style does not reflect his inner determination but definitely adds to his very gentle, lovable, humorous and generous spirit…I dream that this much loved free spirit of mine will realize all his dreams and aspirations and continue to be a source of much joy and cheerfulness…the icing on the cake this time was the inclusion of my precious granddaughter in our celebrations…her wholesome ingenue innocence is a joy to be around and truly  adds to my dreams of unwavering belief for even better times in years to come…as always the Good Lord’s blessings make me reiterate very humbly and gratefully…truly my cup runneth over…

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year…

The Joyous Reruns of Life…

The joy in these has to be accredited in the main to the fact that recollection of these reruns now span six decades…a long time to be sure…but oftentimes when recollecting and recounting, the memories are so freshly on tap…that the heart nostalgically skips several beats! True, memories are kind on the recollection…but that is how it needs to be for the retelling…to try and pass on to the next generation a sense of joy…elation…excitement in the celebration of family, cultural and traditional occasions…

Last week saw us celebrate our Festival of Haj…Eid ul Azha…family from near and far had blessedly got together to spend these three days of festivities, which have a lead-in of ten days of personal effort to be part of the spirit of those performing the pilgrimage of Haj! This includes acts of faith…preparation of all sorts of traditional fare…shopping for traditional garb…specially beautifully colored clinking glass bangles that catch the suns rays in a myriad of hues, often a best-seller for women of all age groups…and my all time favorite…one my lovely sister and granddaughter share with me…henna, the exotic designs colorfully staining your palms to perfection leaving you wishing for more hands to put them on! The excitement is palpable even for those blasé enough to be discounting it! Eid day dawns very early as kitchens are busy with the preparation of traditional and aromatic delicacies to be consumed soon after the Eid congregational prayers! The children impatiently waiting to receive their Eidi…traditional gifts! The resounding of traditional  greetings…Eid Mubarak…throughout the day from family, friends, neighbors, old retainers…near and far! I can almost still feel the excitement of such occasions gone by with my parents and hope and pray that my children and theirs will continue to do so too in years to come. Eid day passes in a pleasurable blur of bonhomie…gluttony…laughter…shared memories…tales of those were the days and do-you-remember…trying to capture the essence of these magical moments in photographs…strengthening of family ties in endless and tiring visits…exhaustion…all this the order of these celebratory days…

Being together…being ‘home’ is reassuringly enough, still as that wonderful website TCK, Third Culture Kids describes…the passport country of our parents…so appropriate for those of us who fall into this category! For a few brief moments in time, this is still ‘home’…even for those it is not anymore…there is an almost undeniable and sometimes hard to acknowledge feeling of harmony with our collective DNA of history, culture and memories, before the return to chosen and adopted lands of residence…but that is subject for another post! The happiness of these celebrations bring back memories of our parents…memories of their love colors my life with a sense of being whole, secure in my sense of belonging…blissfully happy at the celebration that was…the Good Lord be praised…

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