As I gazed upon Your sacred House,
I could not help it, I broke down.
I felt so near to You, like I had never felt before.
My eyes drank from a glass filled to the brim,
From the spring of liquid clarity, pure and undefiled.
I savored every last drop.
I did not know what was happening to me.
Suddenly it all made sense, the fragments converged.
They formed one beautiful silhouette, but yet…
The light was still obstructed by doubt.
My surety was still like a fragile dream and I was afraid lest I should wake,
Lest it should once again be out of my reach.
But dawn must always come, and with a heavy heart, I awoke.
Bound for home, I took one last glance and then departed.
My soul, however, refused to follow.
I tried to quench my thirst with sweet nostalgia.
The glass slipped out of my hands and shattered.
The spring had dried up,
And I was left hopelessly parched.
Why could I not feel that nearness here?
Were You not Sovereign of east and west and every point in between?
Was I not a soul amongst a sea of souls yearning for Your approval?
Did I not possess the truth of Your handiwork which,
Like an unfailing compass, would ever guide me back to Your doorstep?
Or was it I who knew not how to push it open?
For the welcome mat was always invitingly spread.
What I had lacked was the key that fit the lock to bliss,
Lost in the transit of my mind, forgotten,
But, recovered by Your grace abounding.
Now as the world slumbers, the heart of faith stirs awake,
And in quiet anticipation, gingerly turns the key of spiritual escape.
It is during these visits that it regains its strength,
Fed by the blessed sustenance of nearness.
And when it must finally shut the door and put away the key,
It knows that its return is never too far away.
This piece was inspired by my aunt’s very heart-softening account of her Umrah experience. Though she went quite a few years ago, she was able to recount its aspects so vividly as if she had just returned yesterday. Though I myself have not yet made the pilgrimage, her story gives me a glimpse of looking through her tear stained eyes at the Ka’bah and feeling the anguish of leaving the blessed sanctuary of Mecca, where it all seems so easy…of wondering how I shall ever maintain such intimate and extended worship upon my return to normalcy.
This piece is told from her point of view as if she is the one speaking. It is the all too familiar account of one caught in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, doing the basics, but looking for so much more. Looking for guidance, the attainment of which banishes doubt and leads one higher and higher in faith. This is the story of yet another spiritually-starved slave finding nourishment at the doorstep of her Lord, at the House of the Most Merciful.
Finally, this is a reminder that we all hold the key to bliss…we just have to find it.