Clearly, my Ramadhan break took a little longer than expected. It was a good one, though I spent nearly the entire month alone. Normally, I would break my fasts with my Jewish colleague, who skipped lunch for nearly the entire month out of "solidarity"; quite a departure from all the years of breaking fast with family, or the six years of Ramadhan at the University of Ottawa with 200 friends every evening. All that being said, Ramadhan did afford me a unique chance to be part of the community, and I quickly found my place at the nearest mosque. That particular community was a very different demographic than what I am accustomed to, but I somehow fit right in as the token young single guy.
I was a little surprised upon seeing the imam for Tarawih on the first day. He did not at all match the image of most huffaz and imams I grew up with. Rather, he seemed like the most typical Pakistani uncle you can think of, and I was somewhat disappointed. He recited fairly well, however, and made very few mistakes. Still, I was not entirely comfortable at the beginning.
A friend used to drive me home nearly every day after tarawih. One day, he commented, "the blind hafiz is amazing, isn't he?" The blind hafiz? I didn't know who he was talking about. But lo and behold, it turns out the imam I was reading behind was completely blind, even though he made no visible indications of being so. Instantly, I developed a great deal of respect for that imam, and any superficial thoughts I had of him as a typical Pakistani uncle quickly disappeared. That revelation also reminded me about the beauty of the Quran, and the miracle of hifz. It's an amazing thing, that adults, young children and even the blind equally have access to memorizing the most beautiful text in any language. It's something that appears to be quite common, but we must never lose our sense of awe at the magnificence of it all.
A person doesn't need to look far to see the signs of Allah. Whether it be witnessing the miracle of Quran memorization, or seeing the beauty of nature, the signs are all around us. As I once said in a speech I delivered a few months ago, we don't need to wait for the moon to split; there's enough evidence in our day-to-day life.
It seems fitting to include pictures from my trip to Whistler yesterday. My cousin made the trip down from Petawawa, and we had an awesome weekend traipsing the snowy mountains and navigating dangerous cliffside highways in a fun little Yaris. There's one more activity that I'm dying to try, so I just need to convince someone else to take a weekend trip to Vancouver and accompany me on another crazy adventure.
Lions Gate Bridge, on a typically wet, dark, and rainy morning in Vancouver.
In the valley between Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain.
A suspension bridge through the valley.
Snow sitting atop the needles of a Western Hemlock, with Usnea lichen hanging down, as gentle snowflakes fall in the background. This picture makes a great desktop wallpaper.
More pictures here: Flickr