Monday, August 25, 2014

Dawn Prayers, Day something or other

Just the other day my wife was getting ready to water the garden when she noticed a tiny baby rat curled up against the black garden hose for warmth. It was just over a week old, with its hair grown in but its eyes not yet open. It was obviously healthy, but hungry and scared. She picked it up and brought it inside, to show me. We found an eyedropper to use for feeding it, and I did a bit of quick research, learning that goat's milk cut in half with water seemed to be the ideal formula for it.

Within a few minutes we learned all the basics of taking care of a baby rat and were on the way to nursing it back to health.

In no time at all, the little guy warmed up to us and began to crawl on my shirt, exploring his new surroundings. We found a small home for him and made sure to keep him warm, feeding him every 5 hours, as suggested.

The little guy, now named "Ravi", a blending of the French for both rat and live, was welcomed into our lives.

Yesterday, though, we awoke to find that he had passed away in the night.

As we said our dawn prayers on the beach that morning, there was a bit of sadness in the air and in our hearts. Just before I left for work, I had a quick opportunity to tell Shoghi that Ravi had passed away. He looked like he was about to cry, but then smiled and said, "He had a short, but happy, life."

This morning Marielle and I went back to the beach again to say prayers once more. I soon began walking along the sand, following a family of otters that were playing in the water. When I rejoined her, a few minutes later, she was shaking a rattle and chanting a beautiful prayer, or perhaps mantra is more accurate.

Afterwards, I said a prayer, or maybe two, and then Marielle began talking. She spoke of how attached we had all become to Ravi, and how she regretted that we had not taken any pictures of him. And then she said something that really touched me.

She described how puzzling it is that we get so attached to things in life, even other lives. One of the gifts that Ravi brought us was an appreciation of life, despite, or perhaps because of, its impermanence.

Marielle spoke of Shoghi's comment about a short but happy life, and then added, "It's like being attached to a wave." Silly, really. Part of the beauty of the ocean is that the waves continually ripple and flow. It is only through the vast multitude of waves that we really get a sense of the beauty of them. And while we may appreciate one wave because of some treasure it has left on the shore, it is still only one of many.

The past few days have been delightfully pleasant on the beach at sun-up. And I am looking forward to many more mornings on the beach. When it begins to rain, I still don't know what I will do, but I would like to continue to pray at dawn, somewhere besides in the comfort of my own home.

I likely won't write much more about it in the near future (or maybe I will, we'll see), but I truly encourage you, dear Reader, to give this a shot. Try getting up for dawn prayers, if you aren't already. Try making it a community project. It's fun! (Especially when you see the looks on the faces of the friends when you suggest it at the next Feast.)

And who knows, we may all live to see that wonderful day when we get our own Mashriqu'l-Adkhar in our own community.

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