Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The start of my #Hajj journey

Welcome readers, 

I started 2017 on another continent, on vacation with my family in frosty London. And I remember at one mealtime, we discussed the fact that the next international trip would most likely be mine and hubby's Hajj journey. I had also been telling all my family and friends for the past year that my 40th birthday celebrations would be happening in Makkah, whilst on Hajj...

Where we ended 2016 & started 2017- Frosty London
All words, said in earnest with the highest hopes, and yet our names didn't appear on any accreditation list, not the first, second or third. My dream of a Hajj 1438 were dashed by May; and yet I continued to hold fast to the belief that on my 40th birthday, I would be standing in front of the Holy Ka'baa. I did not know how this would happen, and yet I intuitively believed it would✨

31 December 2016
Upon our return home from holidaying abroad, the year kicked off with a bang! As a family we experienced so many trials and traumas and for a while it seemed that the weeks from February to June, just kept kicking us down. There were many times where I had to work at picking myself up and remaining open to the positive blessings which were also being lined up for us. And while we felt like we were in a whirlwind of change in our home, shifts in longstanding relationships and trying to maintain the balance, life continued its hectic pace.

So much has happened for these young men this year, and they have stepped up to
the challenges with immense strength and grace ♥️
Their additional two 'siblings' aka cousins who moved in for the 7 weeks.
If you've been following my blog you would know that this was the year I put my control freak to rest, so to speak. I consciously decided to let things unfold as they were meant to, I untied the proverbial apron strings with my first born and left this year up to him. Apart from the occasional advisory role, he dictated how his first year at University went. He planned his days, his transport, classes, bought his books, arranged his gym time, worked to earn some cash; all on his own. It wasn't easy to just let go, but it was absolutely amazing to see how he stepped up and took charge! I took this as a sure indicator that things will not fall apart if I step back and allow things just develop naturally, things will happen as they are meant to anyway.⚡️

Our last family Sunday lunch before we departed, this young man dreaded the 7 week separation!
Days before our departure, collecting our documents
Upon looking back, I realise that everything that has transpired over the past two years has actually been a preparation for our Hajj journey. In fact, this year alone has felt so monumental with all its challenges, that I cannot imagine having gone on pilgrimage any other time. I accept that whatever emerged this year was a series of steps to prepare me spiritually, emotionally and universally for this life changing journey. It was as if these occurrences were slowly, unobtrusively, aligning me to be open to embrace this life changing experience with arms wide open. Because without a doubt, by the time we left, I was on another horizon, ready to accept whatever came my way, without expectation or 'cast in stone' plans. Growing up I always heard the 'elders' say that we will be tried and tested before Hajj, and whilst it seemed an abstract concept- I can wholly attest to this! There have been many moments over the past couple of months where I've said that life as I know it no longer exists. Well, after this journey... Life as I know it REALLY no longer exists.
Eid-ul-Fitr morning, days after we received the news of our accreditation
And even though this post does not even touch on Madinah or Makkah... these will eventually follow. I felt it was appropriate to start my #HajjSeries (because it's hard to just do one or two posts) with where it all started, right here at home. I've heard so many people say "I'm not ready for Hajj"; let me just say that nothing will ever prepare one for Hajj, not even the four year wait! Finances and family arrangements miraculously fall into place (and I use the word miraculous as I know of some experiences shared with me firsthand which can not be explained in any other way). Nobody will ever be able to give you lessons to prepare you, as this journey is more than just the final pillar of our religion. It is a spiritual transformation like no other, one that is impossible to convey, as every single moment will differ from person to person. Apart from the physical rituals we perform, there is an intense focus on the self, reflection of life and the importance and significance of serving a higher power, our Creator. I cannot say that I have come back changed and that this is the end of it. After Hajj I suspect there will never be an end to the personal transformation, it actually feels like the beginning. And lessons and insights will continue to unfold for as long as I remain open to serving my Creator. Each day brings another epiphany for me, and with it the opportunity to improve.

The morning we departed...

 3 months ago today, 25th July 2017,  I left my home as an individual, with absolutely no knowledge of what lay ahead. As I share my story, you may catch a glimmer of what this journey is about, but the only way to really know is to experience it firsthand.

Watch this space for next instalment 😊

Ciao for now,
RuBe xoxo