Saturday, July 27, 2013

Insha'allahing the Weather

In Arabic, the statement insha’allah (literally, God willing) is used almost as a matter of habit or routine, reflecting the daily recognition that nothing is certain and yes, we will meet tomorrow for dinner, insha’allah.  The equivalent where I’m from would be Lord willing and the crik don’t rise.  It is the acknowledgment that our plans, our intentions, are just that – ours, and they are always subject to change.  It is the naming of the fact that we are not in charge – a good reminder, I think.

As I sit and ponder the grey skies today and look despairingly at the rains descending upon the carnival games set up in the back yard for tomorrow’s sunny-day planned activities for the community, feverishly checking weather reports, I have to smile, remembering some of my first days in Iraq.

Like any good citizen of the United States when making conversation with a stranger, I would speak of the weather, only to receive puzzled looks from my conversational counterparts, Iraqis all.

One thing none of us is in charge of is the weather.  In the United States, that fact is overlooked as we all ponder together (especially when we’re desperate for conversation) whether it will rain or not.  In Iraq, such conversation is viewed at best as weird and at worst as presumptuous.  They’re more right than we.

To discuss the weather is a waste of time.  But even when I know folks well, when I want something weather-wise to go my way, my God-given right as a US citizen is to talk about it, as if talking about it will change the outcome.

When did we pick up the habit of forgetting who’s in charge?  When did we substitute conversation for prayer?  When did we stop talking to each other in real and meaningful ways?  When did we become so afraid of words that the only safe exchange between strangers involves something over which neither of them has any superior claim (unless, of course, we’re speaking with a meteorologist)?  When did tomorrow’s rains begin to matter more than our common problems?  When did we stop talking to each other?

I really do hope (and yes, secretly and selfishly pray) that it will not rain tomorrow – insha’allah.  Either way, it will be a good day because it is God’s day.  And I will be grateful.

No comments:

Post a Comment