I began this blog post thinking about operationalizing network values. It felt serious. I wanted to write a thing that helped me better understand that feeling in my body when it sensed that the work I was doing and the people I was doing it with, were justly constrained by tangible and consistent values which bore themselves out in our communication, care, and labor alongside each other. As Ramadan began to unfold and my days began to shape themselves around my fluctuating levels of energy, sleep, and reflection—I found that task to be daunting. Not because I couldn’t find examples of people in community and in networks trying to live out their values, but because it didn’t escape my attention that I needed rest and spaciousness more than I needed to write. So I rested, and with permission from a friend, tried again. Here’s what this season of rest, reflection, and failing often has been teaching me about living out our values as folks vested in justice and liberation work.
What is coming into bloom?
This year, Ramadan began a few days after the Spring equinox which is a tender blessing because it’s been a rough winter. If Winter is “the time of water,” marked by snow and a slow retreat inward, then Spring is the season of wildflowers, an offering of color meant to coax the spirit out of hiding. What I didn’t know is that I needed a quiet transition in between the two, a quiet clearing where I could emerge more authentically.
Fasting has demanded I remain honest about my true energy stores while making room to celebrate all the beautiful things happening around me. I do this holding fast to my rituals. Walks around my block or with a friend have helped me remain present with the world outside of my head and heart. Sharing meals and books and time with beloveds has also reminded me that while Ramadan can be an intensely personal experience, it is also one of community.
What emergent, surprising, and unique happenings in your community? How can you celebrate the small seeds of intention that are sprouting and germinating around you? What do you need today that you didn’t know you needed yesterday?
What demands quiet tending?
While fasting has helped me see more clearly where I need to be replenished, it has also helped me fail my way towards a more gentle reckoning. I say this as a person who is mostly bad at fasting and has needed permission to fail, and often. On days I break my fast hoping that it will fill a hunger in me I thought was caused by food alone, I eat and still hunger. It isn’t until I shower, take a nap, do some work, and cry at the tiniest nose nuzzle from a friend’s kitty that I realize I am not hungry, but sad and exhausted from carrying so much alone. Fasting this season is helping me gently reassess my consumptive habits—do I need to buy this latte or is my hunger bringing up shame? Do I need to do work right now or do I feel guilty for taking more time than I feel I am allowed? Am I tired from not eating or from the energy of holding back grief? If nothing else, Ramadan has created a clearing where I can ask more of myself more tenderly.
What demands quiet tending, for you, right now? I invite you to think about what this liminal space between true spring and our long winter is bringing up for you.
What do you need to give yourself permission to be bad at? How can you build in spaciousness for yourself? Who can you pull in to community?
Some gifts and offerings:
Ada Limon, To Be Made Whole
Huda Hassan, I Tried to Fast it Away
Katherine May, How Winter Replenishes
Sadia Hassan is an award winning writer, equity consultant and network weaver who enjoys using a human-centered approach to crafting inclusive, equitable, and participatory processes for capacity building. Her skills include: leadership development training using Public Narrative, facilitation, coaching, cultural strategy, program management and workshop design.
She has received a Masters in Fine Arts, Poetry at the University of Mississippi and a Bachelor of Arts in African/African-American Studies from Dartmouth College. Her essays, fiction and poetry have been published widely in national journals such as Longreads, American Academy of Poets, and The Boston Review. You can find more of her work on her website at sadiahassan.com
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