Yesterday my friend smashed her finger while helping her father chop wood. I could feel her pain as she told me the story. As painful as it was for her, it was even harder to hold back the tears. So she let them flow. Despite the physical pain, emotionally she felt better.
I can’t read the news anymore without feeling psychic pain. I see the despair of the families who are powerless to help their loved ones. My neighbor told me he got furloughed and worries how he’ll continue to provide for his family. Now I perform funerals for families to whom I cannot provide a comforting hug. These painful scenarios all hurt my soul. Sometimes, I just want to cry but most of the time I cannot.
My way of coping is to get busy.
I run myself ragged until I have exhausted myself from busy-ness, only then can I stop.
However, in Islamic tradition, the story is a little different.
Abraham and Sarah sent Hagar (pronounced Ha-Jer in Arabic) and Ishmael off into the wilderness. When the water was gone. she set Ishmael down in the shade and began to run, back and forth seven times between two mountains: Safa and Marwa. She ran so hard and so fast that she exhausted herself. She was overcome with emotion and certain that she would perish. Then she heard a voice that told her to return to her son and not to worry. She found Ishmael laying next to the spring of Zamzam, a stream of cool, running water. To this day, Muslims who partake in the Hajj to Mecca reenact this journey of faith. They do so to show their devotion to Allah, and to honor Hagar’s love of her son and her God.
We are also like wanderers in the desert.
Our mouths are parched with thirst for answers to our questions. When will this virus end? When will it be safe to come out of our homes and resume normal life?
Sometimes, when it gets to be too much, we just have to allow ourselves to shed some tears.
As we take this journey of faith we, like Hagar, are alone and scared. Like her, we will be shown the way through the wilderness to the other side. We are promised that each experience we have along the way will not be without some great purpose.