Love Written in Morning Dew

Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 5:38am

Love Written in Morning Dew

Mornings are kind of hectic in my household.
Get up. Prayer. Shower. Breakfast. Coffee. Must not forget coffee. It would be dangerous to drive without coffee.

Get kid #4 up.
She does not like to be rushed. Help her get dressed, get breakfast, comb her hair (oh how I love her hair), make sure she has brushed her teeth. She often lies about having actually brushed her teeth.

Make sure kid #3 is up.
He is relatively easy. He is a sweetheart. A bit of a grump in the mornings, but very sweet. I think I’ll keep him.

Kid #2 likes to make a last-minute dramatic entrance. Thirty seconds before we have to leave. Everything is a bit… dramatic with her. But oh how she shines.

(Kid #1 is in college. Hooray!)

Mornings are rushed. Breakfast. Get dressed. Don’t forget lunch boxes. Pack their backpacks.

We are the family that is late to school. Always late. Perpetually late. Late every day. Be kind to the family who is late. You never know what their mornings are like.

Set the alarm 15 minutes earlier? Late.
Make lunch the night before? Late.
Pick out the outfits the night before? Still late.

Every morning it’s like this. It’s a battle with serenity, and we lose every morning. Sure, we lose with some laughter, amused at the circus show that is a family.

Somehow I fake having my act together for the world. But at home, it’s a beautiful kind of mess every morning.

Every morning, there is a bit of a fire drill. Alarms going off. At some point, the calm and serene Sufi-wannabe, Jedi-wannabe Baba (“daddy” in Persian) turns into a fire drill sergeant. “Everybody go go go. Hurry hurry hurry. Get your stuff, get in the car. Now now now.” I don’t know why I think raising the volume of my voice would somehow make them move faster.

These days we move even slower. Just when I thought I had the hang of things, life throws me a wrinkle. My little baby, kid #4, has a bad sprain in her foot. She’s on crutches, and well, everything moves s.....l.....o.....w.....e.....r.

Walking? Takes longer.
Getting dressed? Longer.
Getting her brace on? Longer.
Crawling to brush her teeth? Longer.
Getting downstairs to have breakfast? Much, much longer.
Getting to the door? Longer.

So ever since my little angel twisted her ankle, mornings are even more stressful.

Yesterday morning I was going through the same routine. I was by the door, and since I knew that it would take the little angel some time to get into the car, I told her to get a head start. I pushed the button to open the door of the minivan, and went back to get the other kids pushed out of the house. I am the Malcolm X father: I will get them out of the house By Any Means Necessary.

By the time I came back outside, my little girl (#4) was in the car, in her booster seat.

In one smooth motion, I jumped in, slammed the door, buckled myself in, and was ready for the best Jason Bourne driving routine to school. When I looked back in the rear view mirror, I saw my little girl in tears. (I am a good driver, always check the mirror. Other people have babies too.)

Slammed on the break.
“Honey, what is wrong?”

The sweet girl mentioned, “You didn’t notice it.”
My mind is racing. “Didn’t notice what, my love?”
She softly repeated, “You didn’t notice it.”
My mind is racing more, “For the love of Jesus, Muhammad, and Buddha... I just want to want to get you all to the school before you are more late. You are in the car. I am in the car. We are all in the car. Do we really need to talk about this now?”

I park the car. I turn around, and face her fully, “Jan-am (“my soul”), what did I not notice?”
She softly answered: “The door.”

I came out of the car, and circled the car. I didn’t see anything. No dents, no scratches. Nothing I could see. I looked at her beautiful brown eyes, and she softly repeated, but with a smile this time: “Your door.”

So I went over to my own door, the same one that I had slammed in my rush. And there it was.

The door, in fact the whole car, was covered in morning dew. And then, written onto the morning dew, in the handwriting that can only come from the fingers of a beautiful little girl filled with love, were the three most magical, most powerful words of all:

I love you.

Under the sentence was a picture she had drawn into the morning dew of herself, a beautiful smiling girl, with the most magical long hair.

There is love, and it is real. I am loved. She wanted me to know that in the midst of all this chaos, I am loved.

Sometimes it is written in dew.
It is here for a few minutes, 
   and then   
       g      o      n      e.  
The love behind it lingers, onto eternity. 

So often I’ve been told to stop and smell the roses. 
If only.

Roses linger for a while.
They start out in a perfect little bud, slowly slowly opening, into that perfect form, before wilting while scattering every last bit of their scent.    
Sometimes their essence is preserved and lingers. 
There is a beauty, profound beauty there in the rose. 

But sometimes beauty is written in the morning dew.   
It is a beauty that you have to be present to, 
A beauty to witness
A beauty to welcome. 

It is as transient as a smile on the face of a child
Who wants to know if her Baba is paying attention.

May angel,
May I always be present
To catch your love poems
Written in dew.

It is not always about stopping to smell the roses. To invite the gentlest and most tender loveliness, sometimes we have to be present to even quicker bursts of beauty.

(Omid Safi)

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Omid Safi

is a columnist for On Being. His column appears every Thursday.

He is Director of Duke University's Islamic Studies Center. He is the past Chair for the Study of Islam, and the current Chair for Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion. In 2009, he was recognized by the University of North Carolina for mentoring minority students in 2009, and won the Sitterson Teaching Award for Professor of the Year in April of 2010.

Omid is the editor of the volume Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism, which offered an understanding of Islam rooted in social justice, gender equality, and religious and ethnic pluralism. His works Politics of Knowledge in Premodern Islam, dealing with medieval Islamic history and politics, and Voices of Islam: Voices of Change were published 2006. His last book, Memories of Muhammad, deals with the biography and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad. He has forthcoming volumes on the famed mystic Rumi, contemporary Islamic debates in Iran, and American Islam.

Omid has been among the most frequently sought speakers on Islam in popular media, appearing in The New York Times, Newsweek, Washington Post, PBS, NPR, NBC, CNN and other international media. He leads an educational tour every summer to Turkey, to study the rich multiple religious traditions there. The trip is open to everyone, from every country. More information at Illuminated Tours.

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Thank you for reminding me to be kind to the family is that is always late. My child is grown and sometimes I lose perspective.

I so needed to read this. My mother of all people, sent it to me. My first born started kindergarten in August, we had our third child in September and our strong-willed two year old turned into an even stronger-willed three year old. It goes by quickly, this I know!

Thank you, as always, for the beauty you transmit. Kid #4 knows where it's at--in the morning dew. Favorite line:

"I am the Malcolm X father: I will get them out of the house By Any Means Necessary."

I love this. Thank you for sharing this with everyone. What a nice reminder.

A child can lead us to the place where we find ourselves centered.
Your daughter's love will continue to remind you to be slow enough "to be present"
to life's important moments. What a beautiful gift!

So beautiful! So incredibly beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

All so very real,so very lovely,so very precious and so very beautiful.......the love of a little child !
I rejoice with you in the most special moment!
Thank you so very much for your column,Omid Safi.
Your children are very blessed,and so are you!

Holy crap, Omid, that was beautiful!

I always say that I practice mindfulness/yoga/meditation simply so I don't miss the simply beauty... the love... of life. Thank you for sharing your story.

This made my morning. Again and again I catch myself rushing into the next moment, missing the sweetness of where I am.

A question: you don't mention your wife. Does she get to sleep in and take the later duties?

What a poignant, yet altogether joyful reflection on experiencing love and beauty in the midst of chaos! Favorite line? "To invite the gentlest and most tender loveliness, sometimes we have to be present to even quicker bursts of beauty." Thank you Omid.

OMG(osh)! Thank you.

So nice and excellent post . Thank you so much.

What is so beautiful about this story, besides the message on the door itself of course, is that you stopped in your rush to listen to your child and her concern. And even though you were in a rush you paid attention to what was needed right then in the moment, getting to school on time be damned! If what you discovered, that message of love, isn't affirmation to slow down for what is really important, I don't know what is!

Oh, the hustle and bustle of getting out of the door in the mornings. Speaking of "by any means necessary", I still give my 3.5 yr old a bottle of milk so he will go to sleep more easily at night. Well, the last night, he took a sip, only to frown and complain that it was "yucky". I looked at the new bottle that I had just purchased at the local farmer's market, and realized it was BUTTERMILK. --Maybe it was a sign that I need to slow down and deal with the suffering of weaning him off of that bottle at night. ~~Lastly, I shared the "by any means necessary father" joke with my mom the other morning while over helping me get the kids to school, and she burst out laughing. She knows very well about the necessity to lessen the suffering of getting kids ready in the morning. ~~ Blessings to you and your wonderful family, and thank you for letting us know that we're not alone and that the struggle is REAL...everywhere.

Oh, how lovely, Omid!

This is so beautiful!!

So truly human, Omar. We (any parent on the planet) have all been there. I remember as a little girl with our family rushing to get to church on time. Slamjamloadbam the often tension filled car. Later, me the parent now...speeding (yes, sadly I did this) to an event with little ones in their seats. Again, worshipping the 'on time' gods. We've all been there. Thank you for taking me back...and for stopping me in my tracks. Divine Stop. Here I am. Blessed by you. And my ability to pause and notice the orchid blooming on my windowsill while the blizzard swirls outside! It's all here. It's ME who often isn't! p.s. Grace to all parents. Forgiveness to us all, too while we're at it. Blessings one and all!

This actually brought me to tears, thank you so much for sharing. What a wonderful gift your daughter gave you and you shared with us. Does she know how far her gentleness has travelled?

So beautiful. Thank you