Awe is The Salve That Heals

“Divine breezes from your Lord waft through the days of your life. Listen! Be aware of them.” – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

Today, outside the window of some random discount gym high atop a shopping center, the massive, frantic 405 freeway spasmed with traffic.  A parade of anxious faces pinned behind their wheels raced toward their respective fates.  Anxiety often masquerades as ambition.  Fixated on fears of failing at some grand enterprise or compelled by the hopeless conquest of purchase, we drive ourselves into the ground.  We must consider again our notions of success in relation to what we ought to value, namely our faith in God Almighty.

Below the staggering wall that carried this desperate river of cars and trucks, a gentle row of small deciduous trees remained undeterred by our neurotic pace. Tucked away by fate or chance, they shifted in accordance to the desert winds of Los Angeles.  A hummingbird, resolute in its fleeting life, darted through the leaves, a whirl of blessed feathers.  I was stuck to the glass, enchanted.  Even through the window I could hear Truth labor in the wind and the trees.  This small music compelled me toward hope, a higher, heavenly hope far beyond the smog and smoke of this volatile city:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” – John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

Our days pass with so much monotony, malaise and routine. God and our place before Him are often peripheral, distant concerns. There are jobs, bosses, relationships even groceries to contend with. Worse, there are those seemingly endless wayward impulses that often confound us even more – that is, the things we shouldn’t do but do so anyway out of compulsion, despair and fatigue – junk food, pornography, endless hours in front of the television or computer screen, gossiping, etc.  Sin rarely entices us with much spectacle. More often than not, the devil’s most valuable tools are restlessness and boredom:

“In all the squalid zoo of vices, one is even uglier and fouler than the rest…I speak of Boredom which with ready tears dreams of hangings as it puffs its pipe.” – Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du mal

Of course, even our best efforts in pursuit of pleasure and distraction leave us mired in discontent and misery.  We must hone and sharpen our sense of awe and wonder in relation to the Lord of All Things as we once did as children. No easy task, but a task that rests upon our shoulders as Muslims nonetheless. Our prayers, our good deeds, are all reminders for us, but so is this bittersweet world that abounds in beauty and enchantment when the dross leaves our eyes and we can see clearly even if for just moment:

“Wherever you turn, there is the face of your Lord.” – Quran, 2:115

Amen.