إن شاء الله InShaAllah

 

God willing, the hungry will be fed.

God willing, the stranger will be welcomed home.

God willing, we will see peace in our lifetime.

God willing, all will be loved.

The thing is, I think God is willing.

I think it is us who aren’t willing.

We are afraid of the world we would create if we stopped waiting for God’s hand to descend and ended wars and fed the hungry with our own hands.

So maybe our prayer should be:

God willing, our fear abates.

God willing, we stop waiting.

God willing, we start acting like God already willed it.

إن شاء الله

إن شاء الله

إن شاء الله

Amen.

 

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Expanding Safe Spaces 

IMG_0312By: Will O’Brien, Social Media Intern 2015

Yesterday evening I had he privilege of attending a prayer vigil. This in itself is not a unique or infrequent occurrence for me over the course of the past months. This one however struck a different chord for me; I felt that a safe space had been created for all in attendance. This is a feat that is rarely accomplished, and is made even more remarkable due to the nature of the vigil – an interfaith vigil for peace in Israel-Palestine.​

As an Arabic speaking Christian who is dating a Jew, this is an issue that is becoming increasingly present, confusing, and meaningful in my daily life. The firestorm of rhetoric from all sides is ceaseless, and increasing more rapidly than the violence in the region over the past month. A topic with multiple facets – a small sliver of land thousands of miles away.

​However, among this constant bombardment of the twenty-four hour news cycle, forty plus people of all different faiths, ideals, and nationalities set these matters aside. They came together for a shared ideal that they all appear to place above everything else – peace. We held our electric indoor fire safe candles in silence before hearing prayers for peace from both the Muslim and Jewish tradition read in Arabic, Hebrew, and English. This was not a forum for debate, discussion, or argumentation. This was a space of grieving, hope, and safety.

​The most impactful effect of this safe place was the observation of my friend from the Arabian Gulf who had never heard this Jewish prayer read in Hebrew before. He was amazed at how much he understood and how similar the requests of the prayers were. For the first time the opportunity was presented for him to consider these commonalities with the goal to be understanding and not refuting.

​Before we could begin to ask for safety for others without a sense of safety among our own little group. The vigil closed with a word or two about getting to know everyone in the circle and seeing who around us cared and felt passionately about the issue at hand. Trying to take this safe space with us to create a network of safe spaces on a small college campus, that might spread into the surrounding communities, and maybe some day to that small sliver of land thousands of miles away.

Seeking Submissions: Silence

It is that time again! A time for preparation, for waiting, for quiet! Here at Searching Sophia’s Pockets, we are dedicating this month to the theme of SILENCE. Quiet time is often overlooked in our busy world, but silence is an important part of almost every spiritual journey. This month we want to hear about the places of silence in your life and how they have led you to find wisdom, love …and lint.

If you are stuck for where to start your submission, here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. How do you find silence in your daily life?
  2. How has silence helped you on your spiritual journey?
  3. How do you feel when you find silence?
  4. Do you experience the Holy in silence?
  5. How do you cope with too much silence/too much noise?

With Wisdom, Love …and Lint,

The Searching Sophia’s Pockets Team

A Prayer for Desires

As we close the month of desires, we offer this prayer about desires. There are so many facets to this theme that the prayers it generates could be infinite.  Nermine’s recent post on prayer and desire also contains a beautiful prayer on the theme of desires. If you would like to share your own prayer, please feel free to submit it to us! Like all prayers on Searching Sophia’s Pockets, please feel free to edit and shape this prayer for use in your home or place of worship, and then share the experience with us!

Dear Spirit of the Heart,

Bless my desires,
let them light in me a fire for peace and justice.
Let my desires give me strength to persevere.
Give me desires of the fiercest kind,
desires that are holy, powerful, and true.
Let me honor those desires with all I do and all I say.

Help me to be kind to my desires,
desires for success, for love, for pleasure, for companionship.
Help me to recognize the humanity and the universality of these desires,
and let that wisdom guide me to a better understanding of all people on this earth.

Bless me with a life full of desires,
full of passion, pleasure, and determination.
Through my desires,
let me show my faith,
let me show my love,
and let me share my light.

Amen.

Unrealistic Desires

Today our writing intern, Nermine, responds to our Autumn Elizabeth’s post about unfulfilled desires. Nermine adds her own wisdom to the subject of desires, and gives us all a new way to look at our desires. 

By: Nermine Mohamed, Writing Intern 2015

I call myself a positive person; always looking at the big picture, the full half of the cup, the hidden wisdom behind all tragedies. My heart overflows with infinite desires; diverse, contradictory and often times even unrealistic.

I desire a world where harmony and acceptance exist; a place in which people would look beyond how I look or dress, where I come from, or which religion I’m adopting and try to know the real me and accept me the way I am. A world in which truth will not be silenced and injustice will not go unpunished, tolerated or worse accepted.

I desire a world, in which people’s hearts are more tender, more loving and generous, where their words are not painful, but healing and their faces glow and smile with hope and inner peace. A beautiful world of different colors, different tongues, different faiths, all living in harmony without prejudice or judgment.

In this brutal and an unjust world, I try not to lose my faith in goodness, in beauty and in humanity. I have this solid belief, not merely a desire, (which might sound unrealistic for some), that goodness and peace will eventually prevail, that truth, tolerance and justice will find their way back into our veins.

My visions can sound utopian and my desires unrealistic and I know that. I know that this worldly experience is not meant to be easy and trouble-free; that it is meant to be tough and painful to test our perseverance and faith. I know that without hate, love wouldn’t be special and sacred. I believe that we need lies for the truth to be meaningful and that without the tragedies, we won’t appreciate the blessings.

I’m also confident that God never burdens us with what we cannot endure. That’s why I believe that all desires are valid and also possible, even though that there’s no sign to tell me so. I believe in unrealistic desires.

Even if my desires are never fulfilled, I am still thankful, for those moments of peace, love and harmony, no matter how rare and short they are. I’m thankful for the warm hearts that I come across every now and then, which make the coldness and bitterness of the world cease, even if just for a little while. I am glad for the open minds that are willing to listen, to understand and to accept.

Mostly I’m thankful for the heart that still desires, that still hopes for a beautiful world, still trusts in a Generous, Just and Merciful God, and still believes that even though sometimes desires are unfulfilled and prayers unanswered, they are never unheard, and that despite what we lack, and what we still yearn for, we are eternally blessed.

Desire for Understanding

By: Jenni TaylorIMG_0518

My travels have just taken me to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Unlike, the United States, which prides itself on being a melting pot, Malaysia has not melted- it is a beautiful hodgepodge of cultures, religions, languages, clothing, and food from all over the world. Short shorts and tank tops are next to hijabs and chadors, with all the wearers using selfie sticks or shopping at Sephora. Harmony seems impossible, but there it is- a million differences passing each other on the street or eating at each other’s restaurants.

I am surrounded by swirling colors and culture, only to log on and see updates on Ferguson protests and now Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where three Muslims were shot and killed.

So, my desire is this: understanding. I want to understand where hatred comes from and how to stop it. I want others to understand that our similarities are far greater than our differences.

This has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with wisdom. I am not asking for agreement, or even tolerance, which seeks to ignore rather than understand. I’m asking for patience, and a willingness to listen.

Here in Kuala Lumpur there is a Hindu holy place called the Batu caves. They just finished celebrating Thaipusam. It involves flowers and prayer, and also hooks and self-mutilation. The hooks are placed through tongues or through the skin on backs. It is described as a religious euphoria reached through intense pain.

I do not understand it.

I do not agree with it.

But I do understand that holy pilgrimage comes from a need, and I recognize that need. It’s a need I find in my own life, when I go into the quiet places and search for something bigger than myself.

I may not understand, but wisdom tells me to try. It tells me that if I sit down and have a cup of teh terik with someone different from me, we will find a shared point of truth. And as a wise man once said, the truth will set you free.

So I pray,

Teach us patience. Give us wisdom and understanding. Help us to stop feeling threatened and find our safety, peace, and comfort in You, and not in the reactions of our fears. Help us to be salt, to be light, and to be your love.

Amen.

The Ritual Of Prayer

Lord, Teach Us to Pray. – Andrew Murray

Some om, cross legged, eyes closed, hands out in open surrender. Others kneel, nose to ground, stomach pulled in as a physical reminder of smallness. Some pace, some chant a mantra. Some lift their hands and others clasp them tight. Many rock back and forth. Some begin to hum, others sing, others say “thank you” over and over until the words are unrecognizable and begin to echo in their ears. The sounds of prayer fill a room, an orchestra tuning their hearts, finding a rhythm, connecting and listening and joining in with those around them.

Peace is found in the ritual. Peace is found in the music of prayer, the songs, the dances, the sway of a church choir and clapping of hands and the stillness and silence of Lord Hear Our Prayer.

IMG_1489

Prayer is mysterious. It is evasive. It is absolutely impossible to do at times, when the heart is hard and life is loud. I find myself drawn to the rituals, rediscovering the winding cacophony of vocally expressing praise, thanks, amazement, wonder, and needs. I remember the voice of my father, deep and muttering, lost in another world where his words are more than consonants and vowels thrown together. I remember my mother, who rocks back and forth and sings whatever song comes to mind. I see their faith, their rituals of spiritual connection, and I am reminded of the good news that I, too, can have a ritual.

So I quiet my heart. I open my mouth. I sing, I hum, I think of the beauty of the world and the honor of being in it to make a difference. I say thank you. I say wow. I say please. I look at my students, and pray that their lives will be filled with joy, discovery, compassion, understanding and action. I pray for those far and near, during this month of rituals when I cannot be with those I love. I pray that the music of my prayer will change my heart, even if it doesn’t change anything else.

I pray the rituals of prayer give peace to those singing the music in their hearts.

Ferguson: We Are Praying

Searching Sophia’s Pockets prides itself on being dedicated to global spiritual journeys, and yet today we feel most keenly that both Autumn and Jenni spent years of their respective spiritual journeys in the Saint Louis area, which struggles at this moment with the decision not to indite officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown. 

To honor that part of our journey and to stand in solidarity with everyone affected by the decision, firstly we offer Searching Sophia’s Pockets as a safe space, as always, on the internet. We offer these pages, these posts, these prayers, and their comment sections a as a safe place for conversation, rest, and action.

Secondly, we offer the following prayer, along with the quiet lamentations of our hearts, to the people of Ferguson, Saint Louis, and more broadly to those upon whom our racist systems inflict harm, which is to say, the world.

Dear God,

We are in agony,
crying, aching, but still we are praying.

This is the world we have made,
one where hurt has boiled to the surface,
despite our attempts to deny it.

Give us strength to bear witness to the racist systems that run this world,
to face the realities of oppression with open hearts and minds.

Give us compassion to gather with those who are not like us,
make us united in our common love,
our common search for justice,
and our common desire for peace.

When systems of power rage against us,
help us continue to survive as beacons of love.

Let us not dally in sentimental love,
the easy love that cannot withstand times like these.

Let us show the ferocity of love,
the bravery of love,
love that is not sated with mere words,
but demands living justice for all.

We are afraid, we wish for an easier way,
yet, filled with radical love,
we can stand together against even the greatest injustice,
calling out, in voices clear and united,
Black lives matter!
Amen!
Amen.
Amen.