Mommy Comes Home: On Seeking, Finding, and the Bliss of Being

Thursday, August 20, 2015 - 5:54 am

Mommy Comes Home: On Seeking, Finding, and the Bliss of Being

There is a clarity that comes when I am with family. We just wrapped out our annual family reunion. It’s a joyous, large immigrant experience. Twenty people under one roof. People sleeping on every bed, on the floor, on couches, on air mattresses. Laughter and food. And somehow it seems like heaven is just a little bit closer, easier to touch. There are every day experiences where the other world and this world seem to mingle.
My youngest brother Farzad and his beautiful wife Kathy have two children, a toddler and an eight month old. They are both beautiful children, angelic truly. We love them both. As is the case with so many people, we are all scattered over this majestically large country. Like so many of us, they live in a city without immediate family members. So when they were there in the reunion, we offered to watch their kids so that husband and wife could do what is not often possible: have a date.
There comes a time when every day is a day of loving service to one’s children, and a date seems like a luxury that we are not afforded. So it gave us great pleasure to be with these angelic children, and have the hardworking parents go out for a kid-free night out.
Watching the children was an adventure. The older child, the toddler, was more easily amused. Lots of cousins were around… imaginary games and superheroes abound. We didn’t see the children, but we heard them. Leaping off of beds, only to discover that their powers of flight were indeed bound by gravity. And then the sound of giggles, joyous giggles of the kind that children know how to do beautifully, and somewhere along the way we as wise adults forget out to do.
As for the eight month old, it was a different story.
Some parents speak of a “separation anxiety,” of the child preferring the company of a parent (most often the mother). This wasn’t quite that. This was something more primal. It was an aching, a tearful sense of being cut off from the god/goddess/mother/food source/source of all comfort/source of who she is. This was angst and pain and loss all wrapped into one.
We, the dutiful loving family members — who are still definitely notthemommy — took turns.

We rocked her.
We walked with her.
We sang to her.
We bounced her.
We went outside.
We came inside.
We tried putting on a show.
We fed her.
We changed her diaper.
We made silly faces.
We let her on the floor.
We picked her up from the floor.

#Epicfail.
Nothing helped.

We all loved this sweet girl. And there comes the time when love manifests itself as service. All the love and service didn’t help. Still we loved, and still we served.

Then, after what seemed like hours to us but centuries to the little girl….
Mommy.
Came.
Home.

I head the door open, and knew that it was my brother and his wife. From where I was, I could sit and watch the sweet child’s face.
Everyone went over to greet my brother Farzad and Kathy. I kept watching the sweet little girl’s face. She was crying, still crying. Her eyes were scanning the room, still crying, when she saw her mommy. It took one second, maybe less. In the middle of the tears came a pause, and, just like that, the tears gave away to first a smile and then to something else: joy, relief, faith, ecstasy.
She smiled as I have not seen her smile before, and sweetly reached out with her plump little arms towards her mom. When Kathy picked her up, the child buried her head in Kathy’s embrace, as if she was breathing in her mother. Love, cuddles, fragrance.
That moment of homecoming, of tears-turning-into-existential joy seemed bigger than a child and a mother. It opened up. It was as big as our whole human condition. It felt like each of us finding God. Finding spirit. Finding our own self. Finding our own sense of worth.
We so often think about the prodigal son story, but how rare do we see the story from the child’s point of view. I wonder if we are like this. I wonder how often we are running around, teeth gnashing, hearts breaking, existentially lost and in despair.
We have forgotten about God, forgotten about what it means to be fully truly human.
We are in tears and agony. And then, we catch a glimpse of love. Of God. Of our own true selves.

It is like this, my dear beloved,
My own true self,
My friend
My love
When we find Him,
Her,
God,
Self
Spirit.

Tears… agony….angst….gone.
Joy. Comes.
Ecstasy.
Seeking. Finding.

And then there is nothing you want to do, other than to be.

The time comes
When you find
And life is blissful.

The time comes
When the Mommy of your spirit comes home.
Seek this one.
Find Her. Find Him.
Become Her. Become Him.
And be blissful.

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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 TimesNewsweekWashington 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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