It was entirely on a whim that I headed towards the purple building with the sign “SANCTUARY”
Inside was the interfaith meeting for women. Two women ministers presided.
There was an African chant; an enquiry into what was the most difficult thing about being a woman, a letter to oneself and then a guided meditation………..
Meditation can never really mean much if it is forced or if we are fighting off distractions. Meditation is like Salah (muslim prayer) if we are actively pushing away distractions and worries then we are unable to open the path that will allow us to have Mairaaj e Momin (meeting with Allah) and feel the love and reassurance of the nearness of Allah and be permeated with His love.
The room was quiet. It was Asr time, the sun filtered by the leaves outside entered through the glass pane windows as a silent witness.
The women within the Sanctuary each separate yet together, each on her own journey and yet indescribably entwined with the journey of the others, sat in pensive, guarded anticipation.
The candle in the center, surrounded by flowers and berries, the round gold colored velvety cushions in a circle around it like petals of a flower seemed to be waiting for the halaqa (circle for meeting and learning) to commence…
As I closed my eyes and followed the guided meditation to the door, the world, as I know it receded. The door opened and it was a garden except there was mist and yet it was pleasantly warm. There were voices of women, women I knew well from my past, and held in affection. The murmured conversation waxed and waned in tone and intensity and appeared to be regarding everyday mundane matters. The rhythm was normal and gentle.
I could not see them nor make out the exact words of their conversations. By the familiar lilt of their tone I knew them to be the strong women of my family. It was then that another feeling beset me, that of warm, loving reassurance.
I was a fly on the wall, I could not see them just hear their murmured sounds. Sounds of confidence, sounds of continuity of love and tradition, sounds of knowledge of how I knew life to be, mundane, predictable yet secure. Sounds that exuded femininity without weakness or manipulation. Being witness to this filled me with confidence, warmth, love and peace……………….
And then just as I had entered the door, I exited and it was over. I was back in the sunlit room with the circle of women from every part of the world. When I had joined them they were strangers to me and I did not know their names. Now as I looked around I felt a warm kinship with each of them as if we had traveled together for a long time and had become bound by the bonds of eternal kinship in search of the same values of peace and tranquility.
I looked around and knew that I had just passed an important milestone…………….