The New Moon came and passed on the May 15th and with it Ramadan
arrived. If you didn’t know, and I didn’t until I Googled it now, the
Ramadan fast is a time to draw closer to God and to remember the
suffering of those less fortunate. Going without food and most
especially water in this very hot and dry place is definitely a trial.
I have felt silly more than a few times for being hungry or needing
water when our tour guides or speakers are capable of going all day
with the thirst and the hunger pains.
With this awareness of the few Muslims we have spent time with my mind
keeps circling back to the same question. Why have we missed hearing
the spiritual connection for those of Islamic faith in this land?
So much stigma and fear is attached to the Islamic faith and yet I
still feel so unaware of what it means to be Muslim in Israel. That
fear is in our movies and on the news as terrorists in countries we
can’t find on maps. Where are their voices? What does it mean to
worship God for them? How do they approach finding peace, from a faith
Many have spoken to us about their connection to the land via their
biblical connection, whether it is a Christian or Jewish narrative from
a couple of different perspectives. These perspectives are helping to
flesh out a picture of what it means to live and love the land they
call Holy. In my mind that picture has a glaring hole, a blank spot
without the narrative of the Muslims of faith in this community, this
I celebrate the devotion it takes to fast during Ramadan. I honor the
integrity it would build to be called to pray five times a day. I too
follow the moon and it’s cycles. I love that they have a whole month
to recognize the suffering of so many, to build others up, and to
honor the holiness of the body by possibly changing what foods you put
into it. So much of the division here could possibly be remedied by
respecting and even celebrating the traditions of others.
As a person who often feels like an outsider, I possibly feel the
desire to embrace other faiths and walks of life more keenly as I want
to be given the same courtesy. I am so grateful to all the members of
this trip. They have made me feel respected and loved, not an outsider
at all. Even though I have been open about my non-Christian status, I
feel I have been heard and respected. I am so grateful to have been
My prayer then is: God, Goddess or ‘All That Is’, please bring us all
closer as the best kind of family, one that loves and cares about one
another. One that wishes each other well regardless of ideology,
faith, lifestyle, gender, sexuality, age, intelligence, demographic. A
family that builds each other up and honors all our back stories,
warts and all. Help us to see each other as humans trying to live as
best we can. Remind us that holiness is where we are, not in the past.
Thank you for this gorgeous planet we call home, I will try harder to
celebrate and honor it. It is a gift.
By Stephanie Bell
Stephanie Bell, 28 lives in Picton, Ontario and works as a gardener and bartender. She is passionate about politics, bicycles and spirituality. She is considering running in this fall’s municipal election.