(thanks to Rama and Ambreen for the photos!)
The Qur’an states that there are ayaat on earth, and in ourselves, if we could only see them (51:20-21). Ayaat on earth are signs in the landscape, if you will. But last weekend, at Marvin Gaye Park, we were working on the hardscape not the landscape. So are there ayaat in the hardscape, as well? i.e. lessons for us to learn about ourselves and about life.
My blisters are healing now. Making it that much easier to type this blog post, to say nothing of my other daily chores. And though my muscles are still a little sore, it’s a gratifying kind of pain. It reminds me of the good work we were doing and the good people we were doing it with last weekend.
What does that word, work, mean for those of us who are more used to wielding pens and pencils than pickaxes? Or more used to prying open laptops with a quick click and flip, than prying through asphalt with crow bars and digging holes in what seemed like impenetrable urban soil…
Physical labor is hard but satisfying work. Our minds and our bodies crave it when we don’t get enough. Both for the respite it gives us from the cognitive gymnastics of the work or school week and for the subtle lessons learned in the process.
Here are the lessons I learned from last weekend’s hardscaping. Foundations take time to lay. The first step is the hardest. Teamwork makes it easier and more fun. The work happens largely “underground.” Inconspicuous at first, as it moves slow and digs deep. But it sets the stage for more rapid and upward progress, insha’Allah.
A few of us got together again last week to work on our common niyyah (intention) for the DC Green Muslims effort. This is, by definition, a work in progress… both because this is a growing group of people whose fresh insight is always welcome and because niyyahs need to be revisited and reaffirmed from time to time.
So here’s version 3.0, if you will. You’ll notice that the first paragraph has not changed, but the second paragraph now includes points on building relationships, networks and enacting change in our lives and the world around us. Please take the time to review and comment on this version of our niyyah here on the blog, or send suggestions to email@example.com:
Nature moves us. In it we feel a deep, spiritual connection to our Creator and the world around us. Our faith and our values motivate us to be more aware of our surroundings and understand the interconnections in our lives and in life. They also drive us to nourish that which is positive and wholesome (i.e. the good which brings us closer to our Creator) and to curb the negative consequences of our actions, on everything and everyone we are connected to.
Our group is one of many networks coming together around common values and collective action, building meaningful relationships and strength in the process. We believe the small changes we make, in ourselves and in our lives, have a wide ripple effect. Our environmental work will be an entry-point to affect profound and lasting change in our communities and country on issues ranging from education and health to economics and social justice, insha’Allah.
Check back soon for more information on our upcoming service day – May 24th – at Marvin Gaye Park and the next Green Dinner – sometime in June. Email us – firstname.lastname@example.org – if you’d like to help out or participate!
Until then, here are two recent articles on religion and the environment that mention DC Green Muslims:
Environmentalism meets religion
by Dianna Heitz
Mar 12, 2008
Medill News Service
Op-Ed: God is Green
If you’re in Virginia, Potomac Overlook Park (North Arlington) has guided walks, suitable for children 8 year and older, every Saturday and Sunday at 2pm (reservations needed). Visit their website for information.
For those of you in Maryland, the MD National Parks and Planning Commission has a lot of fun things to do. Check their website for activities, sorted by keyword.
Any suggestions on your favorite hike or nature walk? Share it with us in the comments.