Before Ramadan started I braced myself for what would soon descend upon me. The weeks before Ramadan I got together with many of my Muslim friends to connect one last time before they would commence focusing on changing their routines, fasting, cooking sweets and large meals, and stepping up their reading the Qur’an and praying. It is a time when I feel largely cut off from them – separated. Twinges of oppression and sadness arise because I love them and miss them. So, I pondered ways to keep my spirits up because it is not fun to have relationships on hold for 4-5 weeks. I asked God to prepare a surprise “feast” for me. He really knows how to spread a delicious feast for us. He is the Great Host of the universe. He feeds us not only physically but emotionally, too.
One of the things which surfaced when I was pondering about it was to buy a five year Gratitude Journal. Wow, I wish I had thought of that decades ago; especially keeping one during the month of Ramadan. It has proven to be a great exercise to keep the spirits feeling positive. Instead of giving sway to negative or cynical thoughts because ministry or some relationships get temporarily thrown off I am constantly looking for things to be grateful for. The Gratitude Journal promotes making my physical senses come alive with joyfulness. Apart from ministry or spiritual type of thanksgivings some of the simple and ordinary things I have been grateful for in the last few weeks have been:
-enjoyed taking the time to watch the fish in my aquarium – picked a wild rose which smelled so sweet – noticed the variety of wildflowers on my walk – freshly mowed grass smelled so wonderful – enjoyed my quinoa chicken salad wrap immensely – found a great hiking hat – heard the cooing of doves, cawing of crows, chirping of birds – was impressed with the taxidermy animals on display at a store – was touched by a cute little girl crossing the street swinging her dolly - so much variety of fruits and vegetables, - loved the feel of wind blowing through my skirt – rain felt so fresh – clouds are so billowy today - and so forth.
I am conscious every day of wanting to fill out the lines designated for that date with things I was grateful for. That exercise has a way of steering a new thought pattern. It is fun to go back and read what I jotted down. It is like sitting down to a delightful feast of blessings. Some days I ask my husband, “Would you like to hear what I was thankful for today?” So, if you are experiencing an emotionally down time during Ramadan while your Muslim friend is preoccupied with her religious duties, I highly recommend keeping a gratitude journal.
Dear heavenly Father, my gratitude journal has only a few lines each day but I find I need a whole page because You show me a multitude of things that make me grateful! What a generous and good God you are. I am feasting on your goodness. In Jesus name, Amen.