In a Miniature Ocean

Contrary to his reputation (don’t look at me) for flinging soup at people and attacking the furniture with anything sharp, Cavechild has begun to mimic me praying.
Apart from the downward facing dog (he does watch me doing ‘yoda’ too), it’s very accurate, from the hands held by his ears at the start to the shahada finger raised when kneeling at the end. Mostly he is having a hoot, bouncing his head off the pillow at bedtime and singing merrily something that sounds too much like ‘la ilaha illallah’ to be pure two-year-old babble. It has made me wonder why we don’t all have so much fun when we’re doing it. Bouncy castle mosques might just be the answer to all our fundamentalism woes.
Strangely, too, he tends to do it about the right times, when one prayer passes the baton to the next; first thing in the morning, just before his nap, then when he gets up in the early afternoon, and again at dusk. I haven’t tried keeping him awake for Isha yet. I dread to think how vigorous his prayers might be then.
In his less destructive moments Cavechild also loves to imitate a hadra, that swaying, rhythmic Sufi invocation of presence, nearly folding forward with a rambunctious ‘Hayy’ and swaying back on his heels dizzyingly again, a grin that would win grin Olympics on his face, cheeks red from the fun of it. Of course, he could just be trying to jump (he hasn’t yet dared take both feet off the floor), while simultaneously exercising his vocal abilities in what I presumptuously interpret as a hadra.
Come to think of it, though, he has also been whirling like a dervish for about six months now, quite correctly (anti-clockwise, left hand raised to receive manna from the heavens, right lowered to pass it through to the material world, like a lightning conductor). His name is derived from Rumi’s spiritual catalyst Shams-i-Tabriz; are a person’s qualities transmitted to them across all the nonsense of history, just by their namesake being invoked each time a teacher calls out their name on the register, a nurse drones their name in a waiting room, or an old friend shouts to them from across a busy street?
The fact that he’s picked up these movements and sounds despite rarely being exposed to them makes me think. Is he remembering a dhikr I went to when he was in the womb, sloshing around in his miniature ocean while I made the waves? Or perhaps these are archetypal movements, echoed in the Sun Salutation, in the bows and prostrations of practically every religious tradition the world over; perhaps we do them because as children they came easily to us. Perhaps we learned it from our own children, not the other way around.
I have a feeling that he knows much better than me the meaning of being present.

5 thoughts on “In a Miniature Ocean

  1. Beautiful Medina! I love what you say about him knowing the meaning of being present, I love how small children seem so much closer to bliss than the rest of us who have sadly often moved very far away from that. Gorgeous x x

    • It’s funny, but I also think that children are far more ‘connected’ than us. I always understood the idea that babies and children are in their pure state, of course, but some things that I still find hard to grasp and what I struggle to reconnect with just seems to be a normal way of life for Zahra. I was shocked a few months ago when, through her babble, she started to recite the last few lines of ayat ul kursi, and then, just as to show me that I didn’t hear wrong, she blew over me!

      She should really meet Shams sometime…they’ll do hadra together and ding qasidas!

      • Yes, the cavekids are ripe for a meeting! They can sing, do dhikr, or just paint themselves in mud and lipstick while we gaze on in adoring stupefaction. We know who the real teachers are!

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