While this post will be written with Ramadan in mind, I think and at least hope that this is something that can resonate with everyone.
As we are all aware, we are currently experiencing a time in our own history most likely unlike any other before now. While dealing with a global pandemic, everyone is experiencing some level of change in their day to day life. Some people's lives have essentially been turned upside down while others are experiencing more minor changes. One way or another, we are all trying to find ways to cope with this.
For so many Muslims, this has totally and completely changed the course of this Ramadan. With mosques closed, congregational prayers aren't happening. There aren't communal iftar gatherings. Things that we may consider tradition are things we are unable to enjoy this year. For example, last year my friend and I hosted a "comfort iftar," (more on that another day) and I was really looking forward to make that an annual tradition. While I still plan on doing so, it will have to be skipped this year.
While this is an opportunity for all of us to focus our extra time on more prayers, reading Quran, and general worship, it doesn't change the fact that many of us are struggling to feel connected with the greater community. And I feel that many of us are trying to figure out how to stay connected with one another.
When the "stay at home" order began, I quickly recognized that it likely wouldn't be long before I was feeling fairly alone. With that in mind, I started to formulate a plan. I thought of what I would want to help me feel less alone. With that, the idea of sending notes to my friends was born.
For as long as I can remember, I've loved sending and receiving mail. Letters, cards, postcards, packages, all of it. As a young girl, I would write letters back and forth to my cousin. When we would go away on vacation, I would send postcards to friends and family. And even years later, I enjoy sending out letters to different friends. Both writing out the cards/letters as well as receiving this kind of fun mail always brought me so much happiness.
So I decided to start sending out notes to all different people. I hoped it would bring each and every one of them a bit of joy. I didn't expect anything in return and simply hoped they would take this and spread it to others in their own way. The response, however, was more than what I had expected. Yes, these notes did bring joy to the people I sent them to. Hearing of their response and reaction was fun. And then a short while later, that happiness and joy was returned to me. In their own way, the recipients of the cards I sent out sent some love and happiness back to me.
While many of us are used to having large iftar gatherings, there has been a lot of talk about trying to find a way to remotely have iftar together. Possibly over video chat or something along those lines. The idea seems really great, but when it comes right down to it, it's simply not the same.
Seeing as my immediate family is not Muslim, I have a different experience with Ramadan than born Muslims have. For me, almost my entire first Ramadan was spent entirely alone. And so while it can be incredibly lonesome, it's something that I'm familiar with. So I didn't put too much thought into other options and simply accepted that it would be another Ramadan spent alone.
This past weekend, a couple of my friends changed that for me. While yes, we can't have iftar together, they had another plan. They decided to bring food over to me and leave it at my door. It's not quite the same as sitting together at the table and chatting over the meal, however, this gesture was a comforting one. It was a reminder that we're not alone. And it was a simple way to be able to connect with one another during this Ramadan.
Ramadan can be an incredibly lonesome time for many Muslim converts. While born Muslims have their families to spent the holidays with, many Muslim converts are the only Muslims in their family and therefore find themselves spending this time alone. While I personally have built up a community around me, there are many Muslim converts that haven't found their community yet. And so I want to urge other Muslims to reach out to converts and connect with them.
For Muslims and non-Muslims alike, I want to encourage all of you to try and find some way to reach out to even just one of your friends or loved ones. Find a way to connect with them and show them that you're thinking of them and care about them. And let that happiness and joy and comfort ripple out to others.
I am also going to offer to send out a note or a card to any and all of you that may be interested. Even if I've already sent a card to you and you'd like another, I'd be happy to send another out. It's something small, but it's something I personally enjoy doing. And hopefully it will bring spread some happiness and cheer to others.
If you are interested, please email me your address at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get them out to you all.
Sending you all love, warmth, and comfort.