Monday, October 29, 2007

Autumn Of My Life: Transition To A Career In Muslim Chaplaincy?

It's that time of the year again.

A few days ago, I went outside and prepared my garden for the winter, pulling out dying tomatoe vines, and dry stalks left over from the beautiful flowers of the summer.

This morning, I signed my retirement papers. I have been employed in the field of Corrections for almost 10 years.

Just like fall is an exciting time because of all the beautiful colors and smells, so is the prospect of retirement. The end of one season. The start of a new one. Exciting, but a transition nonetheless.

I remind myself that I will now have time to do the things that I like to do: writing, jewelry-making cooking, homemaking, gardening ... Yes, I know. I can do them and still hold down a full time job, but I would like to devote myself fully to these activities. I have held down a full time job for most of my life. I am close to 60 years old. I'm sick of it.

I need to get my health in order. Also need to lose weight. No use in being retired and not having the health to enjoy life.

Hubby and I are also planning to buy a house in 2008, Insha Allah. I am real excited about that! And could spend at least a year getting it the way I like it.

But the biggest transition, Insha Allah, will be to a retirement career as a Muslim chaplain.

I currently work in a maximum security state prison for women. Our Muslim chaplain did not renew her contract because she wants to finish school at Hartford Seminary. So, the prison invited me to apply. I should know something by the end of November. At the same time I will be retiring from my full time position. The Muslim chaplain contract is for one day a week, six hours. A perfect retirement gig, eh?! I am so looking forward to it. I have worn many hats in my career but I never thought I would have the opportunity to be a Muslim chaplain. Allah (swt) is truly good to me, Alhamdulillah.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Eid Party Conversation

Insha Allah everyone had a blessed Ramadhan and Eid Al-Fitr.

Eid parties at the masjid are usually pretty interesting for me, but this year some local Muslims got together and had an Eid party at a fire hall.

One long table was for the men and another one was reserved for the women and children.

I ended up sitting next to two elderly Pakistani ladies. One spoke English, but the other did not - she could only understand English. I have seen these ladies before, but never had much of a conversation with them other than to greet them with salaams. This time, however, we had an opportunity to chat: The conversation went something like this:

Pakistani Sister #1: Are you Arab?

Me: No.

Pakistani Sister #2 - Says something in Urdu to the other sister.

Pakistani Sister #1: She says you look Arab.

Me: No. I came to Islam from Judaism. Even some of the Arabs think I am an Arab. When they see me on the street, they speak to me in Arabic.

Pakistani Sister #1: (Pointing to my clothing) You dress like an Arab.

Me: Nope. I'm American.

Pakistani Sister #1: Your husband's an Arab?

Me: No. He's an American, too.

(Both Pakistani sisters look at each other ... hmmm)

Pakistani Sister #1: Where did he come here from?

Me: He was born here. He's African-American. That's him over there. (I point his direction.)

(Both sisters really look at each other now, lol. They decide to change the topic.)

Pakistani Sister #2 - Running her fingers up and down her arms.

Pakistanti Sisters #1 - (Pointing to my bangles) Your jewelry is even like the Arabs.

Me: Well, I guess us American sisters learn fast!

All three of us sisters have a hearty laugh and agree!