I was the child who never wanted things to end.
If I was cosy at home, I never wanted to go out and if I was out playing with friends I never wanted to come in. For years I didn’t reach the end of books I loved because I never wanted them to finish.
I now live a reality where, being in a small university town, I say farewell to beloved friends every four years or so. The majority of the people here are transient and we are part of the relatively small resident population. Over time, I’ve learned to think of goodbyes as necessary parts of life designed to cultivate gratitude and it sometimes seems bizarre to me now, how difficult it used to be to just move along from things. And yet, I am reminded of this intense need to hold tight every single time my children want their park adventures to extend past dinnertime or beg for their playdates to become sleepovers.
It is tough to let go of good company. To turn and walk away from your friend in what you feel like is the most important part of the game. Or conversely to see that friend being led away, so that you may both continue your days separately. You want to hold on. You want to have more. There are secrets still to share and places still to discover.
We are often encouraged to consider the blessed month of Ramadan as a guest: One who arrives with great joy and splendour and then, it feels, just as we are getting to know one another – beginning to share our secrets – gets up and departs. Our house feels empty. Silent. We are sad. Regretful. Remorseful. And yet, like the best of guests, Ramadan leaves us gifts and treasures to help us through. Some are obvious (energy, renewal) and others not so much.
As the month of the Quran, Ramadan brings with it many opportunities to join in gatherings celebrating the reading of the entire Blessed Book. Often called khatams (literally translated as endings), these gatherings are special for the fact that they don’t mark an end at all. Instead, as the last verse of Surah An-Nas is recited, there is a rustling of pages as all turn back and Bismillah, here is Surah Al-Fatiha! For the recitation of the Quran never ends and so, it is not an end we commemorate but a continual beginning.
And so, I have learned. As Ramadan reaches its final day, I understand that it is departing only so that it may arrive again – the month long sleepover with our most special guest may be finished but I know these days are coming back and I have only a year to prepare for them!
Image Notes: Mosque decorations made using templates from Sweet Fajr