Yesterday I learned something to add to my “Do’s and Do Not’s” list: DO write your blog before breaking your fast. Instead, I worked outside for a while, did some work on my conference presentation, and made dinner (no I didn’t taste anything as I prepared it.) By the time I’d finished eating and cleaning up a bit, it was nearly 11:00 p.m. I nearly dropped off to sleep twice as I was writing last night’s blog post, and was nearly catatonic when I finally published it and posted on my Facebook timeline.
I had to drag myself out of bed this morning at a little after 4:00 if I was going to have my protein bar and coffee before daybreak. As soon as I finished it, I puttered around for a little while before climbing back into bed at around 6:30 to get a bit more sleep. When I reemerged it was a bit after 8:00. It’s a good thing it’s Saturday and not a weekday. Then if I got up at 4:00 there would be no going back to bed, but pulling myself to get ready for work. Note to self: write blog early in the evening.
Thus, it is currently 7:00 p.m. and while I am a bit sluggish and my stomach is a bit rumbly, I am awake enough to capture a few thoughts while my mind is still somewhat clear. One of the things I did this morning between breaking my fast and going back to bed was to do a bit more reading about the fast. Apparently, one traditionally breaks one’s fast with a sip of water (I did that part right, though I think the 700 milliliters constituted more of several gulps than a sip) and eating a few date. Oh dear. I don’t have any dates. Amazon.com to the rescue. My Medjool dates (two packages from two different companies) should be here in time to eat when I break my fast tomorrow. I do have some dried cranberries, but I don’t think they would be an appropriate substitution.
My friend and former coworker J, who taught me a bit about Ramadan as well as a number of phrases in Arabic (things like, “hello” and “thank you”), introduced me to Medjool dates. You should always have dates for emergencies, she informed me, pulling some out of a drawer and handing them over. I discovered that I loved them, and have periodically purchased them over the years. Then I took a look at the nutritional information and realized that, while dates are good for you, they are high in sugar and calories. So I stopped popping them, in fact, I stopped buying them altogether to avoid the temptation. Now for a brief time, during these forty days, I will enjoy a few dates when I break my fast. My guess is that when Ramadan is over, I’ll stop eating them again, or only every so often as a treat.
I find myself wanting to learn more about what else I should be thinking about during these 30 days, what other things I can do. In a sense, the observance of Ramadan reminds me a little bit of the Christian observance of Lent–it’s not just about giving something up, but also about giving something of ourselves, volunteering, giving to charity, doing good deeds, helping others. So I will continue to ponder and study and learn about the principles and practices of Ramadan. And I will reach out to J and A, my other Muslim friend and coworker with whom I have conversations, about the how to’s (and how not to’s) of fasting and observing Ramadan.
I have had moments during my writing of my Lenten blog, Forty Days (and variations of that title every year), when I am a bit irreverent about a variety of things related to Lent and Jesus and his ministry. I will (try) not do that in this blog, at least I will try not to. I have no familiarity with Islam as I do with Christianity, having been raised and spent time in various permutations of that faith. If I get a bit cheeky in this blog, it is not intended to be offensive; my goal over these 30 days is more so to poke fun at myself as I earnestly but a bit haphazardly observe Ramadan in solidarity with J and A. By the time I understand better what I am doing and why, the 30 days will have passed. I can only hope that whatever gods or spiritual beings are watching will be blessed by the effort. And so it goes.