19 June 2015

Why Are You Fasting?

If you’ve been a long time follower of this blog – are there even any of you out there left? – you have been told my Ramadan story.  How I came to Morocco during Laylat Al-Qadr 2005, over Halloween, and my life changed.  How ever since those four days, Morocco has been twisting and turning my life in ways that I could have enver predicted, pulling me in, pushing me away, back and forth, not like the waves, but like the leather sack that Amazigh women in the mountains use to make buttermilk – often violently, and producing something that not everyone can love, but that I do.

Was that too much of that metaphor?  Anyway, I digress…

Other years, I have fasted to understand Moroccans, to test myself if I wanted to become a Muslim (I don’t), to create some kind of stronger connection between myself and Morocco, to fit in, to show people I love them, to seek out God, to show people they weren’t fasting alone in America, and to be able to tell myself and other people that I did it.

This year, I’ve broken into a new community, where people don’t know me, Moroccans that haven’t had previous exposure to my particular brand of crazy half-Moroccan-even-though-yes-not-one-of-my-parents-is-Moroccan-ness.  No one expects me to fast, and perhaps there is no other non-Muslim foreigner in Casablanca who is.  But I wanted to this year.  And thus, I am obliged to come up with a reason, true or false, to explain WHY.  Why would you do this thing that many of us consider a burden, and try to get out of in any way we can?  Why would you culturally-appropriate this religious act of ours and not convert to our religion?

So here, for all the blogospheres to read, I’ll say “I don’t really know why I am fasting this year.”

I’m in Morocco, so it’s not like I miss it.  I miss my family in American, and my Moroccan family in Marrakech, and low blood sugar and no water for 16 hours a day just make me miss them more.

I’ve made pretty clear already I’m not converting to Islam, so we don’t have to even go into that.

Is it because I want to gain creditability with our volunteers and staff?  Maybe, but I think that the work I’ve been able to do with CorpsAfrica is some of the work of which I am most proud, and I’m not worried any more about what volunteers do and don’t give me credit for.  Haters gonna hate, and lovers gonna love.

Is it to impress my new Moroccan boyfriend’s family?  Let’s not kid ourselves, yes of course.  But he doesn’t care (hamdullah I finally found one) if I’m Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Buddhist, or Pagan.  He respects my spiritual practices and I respect his, and I am excited for us to share this holy time together more than I am excited to show off my ability to not eat or drink to his family.

Is it because I want to get closer to God and the divine, and back to the spirituality of my teenage years.  Always.  There’s a quote I can’t quite remember from Dogma, about how faith is like a glass that keeps getting bigger as you get older.  When you’re a kid, it’s really easy to fill your faith glass, but the more you grow, the more your glass grows, and you have to do a lot more to fill it.  I’ve clearly even had to look outside of the confines of the suburban Lutheranism and socially-liberal Catholicism in which I came of age.  I desperately want to feel God’s grace like I used to.

There’s not one reason this year, even though there are some reasons that didn’t exist in previous years, and some that did.  I suppose that every year was a mishmash of reasons, and I shouldn’t worry about justifying myself to other people.  I suppose the calm I feel and the time I have to read and write and  the way I love that I have time to sit, think, and seek the Divine should really be the point of this month.

Maybe next time a taxi driver asks me why I’m fasting, I’ll just say: “Because I like it.”