Monday, January 28, 2013

Day 27, Or I'm in the Home Stretch!

I haven't blogged about my Ramadan-ish experience for a while, so I thought I'd provide a brief update. I've admittedly been a little distracted with this new church calling working with the Young Women, trying to get all the positions staffed, and get all organized, and figure out what I'm supposed to be doing...  Every time I turn around it seems there's something else I hadn't thought about yet.  Oh, you need a budget proposal? Ok, I'll get right on that.  And we need to schedule New Beginnings?  All rightie, then.  And we're in charge of the joint activity this week?  Gotcha.  Basketball practice starts next week?  Now, that's the sport with the round orange bouncy thing that goes through the hoop, right?  Don't forget Personal Progress, and new class presidencies, and gotta clean out that closet, and teacher training, and ward council meeting, and monthly stewardship interview, and BYC and, and, and...makes my head spin just a bit.  Fortunately, I have a great group of young women, and some wonderful leaders to help me get everything sorted out!

One interesting development to note: I've found that as it's gotten physically easier to fast, it's gotten mentally more difficult.  Perhaps because I'm more distracted now than I was at the beginning of the month, it seems to slip my mind more easily and it takes conscious effort to remember and force myself to wait until that magic minute the sun sets...that gets incrementally later on a daily basis.

I've been plugging away at the Quran and it's been interesting to read and compare to the scriptures I'm most familiar with.  Tone-wise it's most like the Old Testament.  There are passages that sound like they're right out of Levitcus, and it frequently incorporates familiar characters and stories from the Bible, including Jesus, Mary, Moses (particularly in conjunction with the Pharaoh), Abraham, and Ishmael.  Lot and his wife (you know, the one who looked back and turned into a pillar of salt) turn up quite a bit. Jonah and Job have made cameos, too, as well as a host of other people.

It's also interesting to note where the biblical stories and the Quranic (is that a word?) stories diverge.  For example, in the Bible, Zacharias is struck dumb because he doubts the angel Gabriel's declaration that his elderly wife would bear a son. "And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words..." (Luke 1:20).  But in the Quran, when Zacharias receives this news he asks "My Lord how can I demonstrate my everlasting gratefulness for this event?" The Lord responds, "What I would ask you is not to say a word to any one for three consecutive nights" (19:10).  Zacharias's silence was a sign of his gratitude to the Lord for the blessing of a son rather than a punishment for disbelief.

Or another example: in the Bible, David was brought to the realization of his sin with Bathsheba when the prophet Nathan tells him the parable of the rich man who stole a poor man's ewe lamb.  When David reacts with anger towards the rich man, Nathan simply says, "Thou art the man" (2 Samuel 12:1-7).  The Quran, however, tells of "two disputing individuals who came over the wall into David's temple" and told David of their argument, asking him to settle the dispute. "This is my brother and he owns ninety nine ewes and I own one.  He has been arguing that I should give it to him..." David answers that the brother "was not being just to you by wanting to add your ewe to his" and then has his moment of realization: "David then thought that to be a test for him and he fell down on his knees asking for forgiveness" (38:21-24).

I appreciated this counsel: "Do not take positions on what you have no full knowledge, for hearing, seeing and feeling are all parts of what you shall be held responsible for" (17:35-36).  It would be refreshing to have more people willing to say, "You know, I really don't know enough to have an informed opinion on that topic" as opposed to shooting from the hip or making faulty assumptions or, worse, forging blindly ahead when contradictory facts are presented.

And I find this assurance comforting: "Rely on God, and He is all you need to rely upon...You will not earn penalty for making a mistake with good intention, and God is Forgiving and Merciful" (33:3,5).  That's a good reminder for this brand new, slightly overwhelmed, Young Women president...

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