- Thirty Days of Love
For Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, prayer, worship, charity and discipline. Fasting during its observance is one of the Five Pillars of Islam; the others being Profession of Faith, Almsgiving (charity), Pilgrimage and Prayer (five times per day).
Thirty Days of Love is the annual Unitarian Universalist Side With Love celebration that runs from the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. to Valentine’s Day. With the vast majority of Unitarian Universalists coming from various denominations and having different beliefs (we are a covenantal faith rather than a creedal one, (i.e we are more concerned with how we are together rather than what we believe together)), UU traditions, holidays and rituals are sometimes difficult to embody and carry forward…though we did Chalica this year!!!
Last year, in an effort to make our UU Thirty Days of Love more meaningful for me personally, I borrowed (ok…I just completely stole ?) elements of Islam’s observance of Ramadan and incorporated that into my observance of Thirty Days of Love.
Throughout the month, I fast during the daylight hours and engage in my meditation practice five times a day. Although Almsgiving is practiced throughout the year, I am also more intentional about almsgiving during this particular month.
Fasting during Ramadan is done as an exercise of discipline to focus one’s attention on the stirrings of the spirit. Observers of Ramadan do not eat or drink anything during the daylight hours; yet fasting is not meant to be a punishment or a penalty. For Thirty Days of Love, I’ve have had to make some modifications. I allow myself water and coffee.
Along with learning to play a musical instrument and graduating with a chemical engineering degree, meditation, for me, is perhaps the most difficult practice to master…and I most definitely haven’t mastered it. Teachers will say that it’s not supposed to be difficult, that there’s nothing to “master.” I’m not convinced. The writer Sparrow best illustrates the dilemma. He writes, “Some books on meditation imply that you’ll quickly stumble upon inner peacefulness. Actually, the precise opposite is true. You may think you’re a fairly calm, centered person, but the minute you cross your legs and attempt to count your breaths, you’ll discover there’s an out-of-control 2AM disco inside you – in fact two discos, each playing separate songs at ear-splitting volume, each filled with frantic dancers in mismatched polyester (Sparrow, The Sun, Jan 2020, p26).” Yep!
Thirty Days of Love…may it be a blessing!
Nurture our spirit. Strive for Justice. Transform the world.
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