In 2005 I traveled to Pakistan for the first time to meet my husband’s family. I didn’t know what it would be like to visit Pakistan as an American woman, but I wasn’t too worried. I grew up in a Greek-American household; I had been surrounded by judging elders and traditional family customs my whole life. Also, I had some familiarity with Islam, and a love of Pakistani music and craft. I had traveled; I could fit in any vessel, how hard could it be?
The earthen jug of milk, collected in the morning. The pigeons in their cages on the roof, the goats with colored tassels hanging from their necks licking at a broken pipe just outside the front door, the golden dust that hangs over the whole city as the sun starts to sink. Beauty. I realize I have barely noticed it as my identity takes up all the room with its self-preserving struggle.
I try to ask my spiritual teacher for help in my heart, try to ask him to please deliver me from myself, but shame stops me mid-thought. I’m pounding on the door of love, as Rumi says, from the inside. I know it. But I can’t feel it.
Maybe it’s time to call Haq.