View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ramadan Reflection on Simplifying Life

In Judith Viorst’s book, How Did I get to be Forty & Other Atrocities she has a poem entitled, Self-Improvement Program.

In these lines Judith Viorst recites all the new activities she has taken on in an effort to become successful—needlework, guitar lessons, advanced Chinese cooking, primal scream therapy—and dozens of other things.

And then with a sigh she concludes,
“And I am working all day and I am working all night
to be good looking,
healthy and wise and adored
and contented
and brave
and well-read
and a marvellous hostess
fantastic in bed,
and bilingual,
and then she cries out,

‘Won’t someone please stop me?’”

Ramadan can be a time to slow down, stop and be still.

This does not happen immediately especially if we have been running at a great pace.

This does not happen easily as society often grades us on the basis of what we do, how much we achieve and according to key performance indicators.

The Ramadan invitation to stillness is a wonderful gift.

Stillness is valuable for the rest and freedom it offers but also for the time and space it creates to gain a new perspective on our cluttered lives and drivenness.

Reflecting on the title of Judith Viorst’s poem, Ramadan is ultimately not about self-improvement but positive changes gained by drawing on the resources of God and of others.

The slowing down that Ramadan offers is useful for reflecting on the pace of our lives.
To ask, “Who is setting the pace?
To delete things in our diaries, to thin out our timetables, to live more centered and satisfying lives that are helpful to others.

Source of the poem:
Judith Viorst, How Did I get to be Forty & Other Atrocities (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1973), 40.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: ‘Won’t someone please stop me?’