Eid al-Adha: A Brief Exchange

Out of the blue as I sat in meditation outside after sunset, a response came to a simple “How are you?” from a day or two before:

My friend, thanks for asking. The short answer is, for the second time in the last 4 years, my wife and i faced impossible, devastating circumstances. We did our best, put our trust in God, and fought through to a positive, trusting attitude of faith. Then, at that last second, the sea parted, and Pharoahs army disappeared beneath the waves, like they were never even there.

I replied:

“Eid al-Adha is an Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah’s (God’s) command to sacrifice his son. Muslims around the world observe this event.”

That from old interfaith & cultural studies. This year, it’s celebrated yesterday & today, depending on location, with the full moon.

Resting in faith in the face of adversity and the unknown is challenging for any one of us ~ sometimes more so for two or more. May we all find the grace & peace you’ve experienced, and celebrate accordingly 🙏

Elsewhere today, I was reading a martial arts post that focused upon the importance of relaxation in the exercise of one’s art. It reminded me that, in the military, we learned our technical jobs, but the real measure was to perform those same tasks “under combat conditions.” It is extremely counterintuitive to beginners, the notion that relaxation is somehow important in such tense situations: they are already struggling to learn and build upon their technique, but when the pressure is on, everything falls apart into a cascading shitstorm of pain, frustration, embarrassment, and ultimately defeat. When we watch our teachers and masters, though, we sense grace and effortlessness that we can only know as transcendent. We trust that, with practice, someday we may be like that.

In my own martial arts studies, there were the occasional “Holy shit! Where did that come from?!?” moments when techniques were effortless, sure. But a pivotal moment for me occurred during one of my later black belt tests: I could see that my uke was suffering to perform to his role in front of the assembled senior instructors and to not let me down during my test. As he raised his boken over his head to strike again, I broke from the form and opened to him, lowered my jo staff to my side, and raised my free hand to signal “enough.” He was startled. I stepped in, smiled, took his forehead to mine, and I thanked him. I took a step back, slapped my hakama between my knees, and returned to seiza facing him. My friend followed my lead: I bowed to him, he bowed to me, and we turned to bow to those administering the test.

When I was not clinging to the outcome of a test, the solution to this situation was clear. What the seniors thought of my aikido was out of my hands ~ perhaps it was never really in my hands at all. I had put in the effort over the years, of course, and I had done my best, and we all arrived to this moment together.

All that was left was to trust and to surrender. That’s when the clearest expression of who we are comes through.

If in that moment my friend finished me, I suspect I would have left this world content. I’d like to think I can meet any situation like I experienced that moment, but I know it’s not true: The last I looked, my arm was flailing about trying to swat away a large bug that just buzzed in and bumped into my head 🙂

Maybe yesterday we experienced terror, and maybe tomorrow we can look back and rationalize that what happened today was not a miracle after all. But today ~ right now ~ maybe it’s okay to know surrender and to celebrate the miracles around us. In time, maybe we discover a little more about who we are and how we are meant to live.

Trust in your practice 🙂

By Joe

Puzzle Wrestler & Mountain Herder. Math & Computer Nerd since the 80s. Longtime linux (current debian, ubuntu, raspian, centos, gentoo), currently fighting feebsd. Over-complicates networks for fun, occasionally secures them for profit. Develops own tools & services (cli, web services, and lately some android). Degrees in Math, Belts in Aikido. Zen, Motorcycle, Ham Radio, Homebrew (Ale, not Radio), Coffee & Tea, some Mandolin & Fiddle, MDA Advocacy (son with Duchenne), …

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