Original entry on September 11, 2014
Earlier today, I walked out the front door to find myself face to face with a deer. Every morning, I watch a group of deer gracefully playing through the trees in my cousin’s backyard. My friends on the west coast laugh when I describe to them the beauty I have seen in Princeton, New Jersey. Despite this, I didn’t expect to walk outside and find a deer on the doorstep. Face to face with such a beautiful animal. We stared at each other, the deer and I. As I slowly moved towards my bag for my phone, the deer ran off. It was the one time since I have arrived on the east coast that I didn't have my phone in my hand when leaving the house.
When I had walked out of the house a few moments earlier, the only thought on my mind was wondering if there were any crazies in Princeton. My parents repeatedly made me promise I wouldn't go into NYC today. The remembrance of September 11 is painful for all of us. They say that in times like that, years later, you will forever always remember exactly what happened when the plane hit the towers, or even when you heard the news. I definitely still remember that moment. I know I have shared it with you all a few years back in one of my earliest blog posts (http://haneenoriqat.com/exactly-2-months-and-1-day-after-i-turned-13/). In an attempt to fulfill my promise to my parents to stay safe, I figured heading for the university would be safe. The deer made me momentarily forget my worries.
A few minutes later, I spotted the busy street I would have to walk to get to the bus stop. Part of my walk has no sidewalk or pedestrian area, and I was anticipating the itch of tall grass I was going to walk through to stay safe from the cars. I have already experienced unsafe moments while walking to the bus stop… Like a car purposely trying to run me over and another trying to pick me up off the side of the road. As promised, I will share all these moments in the upcoming week!
Focusing on the road ahead, I began reciting Quran to soothe my thoughts. I was walking in between two trees in an area that looked like I was walking on a bridge, with houses on either side, when I noticed a flurry of birds dancing between the two trees and singing. As I walked right through their delicate dance, I again forgot about the busy street and crazies that would surely cross my path today.
I realized that Allah swt gave me the blessing to witness and live both these moments. There's a lot on my mind today, both personal challenges and struggles that my brothers and sisters in humanity are facing today and everyday. Whether it's the remembrance of 9/11 or 1948; the continuous occupation of Palestine or other terrorist groups tearing down the true teachings of Islam; down to racism and anti-immigration shredding the idea of an “American Dream” or just carrying an identity that is feared through being misrepresented, misunderstood, and stereotyped across the world; so many more struggles that are not limited to these. It's a simple reminder that it's a mercy from God that He allows us to move through experiences, and momentarily forget ones that cause pain or heartache. We live. We learn. We grow fiercer and stronger everyday to create change for future generations and loved ones.
Today and everyday, I ask Allah swt to fill your hearts with peace and joy and bestow his blessings and mercy upon humanity.
A statue across the street from Princeton University that I stumbled upon today. The statue was titled, “Out to Lunch” and made by Seward Johnson Jr. I also think reading while out to lunch is wonderful, Mr. Johnson Jr.