Today, I’m thankful for community. I’m grateful to be a small, insignificant part of some larger group, grateful for the support and brother/sisterhood, the understanding and friendship, even the quarrels that come from participating in things with other humans.*

Case in point: I live in a smallish neighborhood next to a biggish mosque. All of my neighbors are Muslims, and so they’re all fasting during this blessed month. During Ramadan, almost every night, starting about 2 hours before sunset, different neighbors distribute little boxes of food to each other: dates, watermelon, other fruits, maybe some chickpea something, occasionally some biryani or samosa or some other delicious thing, one house sends everyone a quart of rice pudding.

Last night, my wife and I went to a neighbor’s house to break the fast and enjoy a meal together. Other neighbors were there, and some relatives and friends from other parts of DFW. After 4 years, I’m finally getting more comfortable at these things, and it was a really decent time. I ate too much, and may Allah forgive, me, but the food was delicious and conversation was pleasant, and we all had a great time chatting, breaking the fast, praying together, and feasting, and it feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve been a part of anything like that. The feeling is mistaken: before I got married, there was DSC; back in NY, I had the grad school colleagues; in IL, I hung around with a good group of art school chums; and way back when, there were the punk rockers, and all those people too. Really, I’ve always been part of something, with short intervals.

Alhamdulillah for community! May Allah bless this community, and other communities, and guide us all to better, Ameen.

Every month or so, a group of revert Muslims—those of us who were guided to this faith at some point in our lives, rather than being born into it—gather together for a meal and some fellowship. I don’t have pictures of last night’s dinner, so these will have to suffice.

(Gatherings amongst the Muslims are mostly segregated by sex, around here anyway. My wife was down the hall in the family area with all the other women, and most of the children were running around upstairs. That’s sort of how it usually goes. Last night, I was in the front rooms with a bunch of other brothers, the sisters were in the family areas at the back of the house, and the children were running around upstairs. After 35 years of co-ed parties, this took some getting used to, but it works.)

So today, I’m grateful for community, even if I’m very much looking forward to a quiet evening alone with my darling, adorable wife. Alhamdulillah.

*This seems a paltry definition of “community,” but I can’t really think of something more accurate or descriptive that also holds true to my experience. I feel a bit jealous sometimes when people speak of wanting to be part of a community. I’m not sure I know what that means, and so this “participating in things with other humans” is about as close as I can get. May Allah forgive me and help me become better, Ameen.

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