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  • Writer's pictureIjunad Junaid

Seeking Spirit

Seeking spirit during dark times is a rebellious act. As we lose our connection to community, love, and the earth, our instinct forces us to reconnect with ourselves and our spirit. When the present reality is painful, we turn to the lives of our ancestors. We turn to tales, myths, and folklore. Stories that convince us life was different.

But I wonder if there is truth in our tales? What does it mean to connect with spirit? And was there ever one in the first place?

Do you entertain the idea that in our long history, we lived a life that valued our community and the earth? Do you wonder if we found sacredness emanating from the earth itself? If we saw the divine reflected in the mangrove's strength, the solitude of the maakana, or the kaleidoscope of colors beneath the water?

Do you wonder if our vulnerability was a constant thought in our minds? After all, our entire way of life exists on an isolated garland of islands. And we are at the mercy of the ocean. Do you wonder if we knew of the balances in nature? Did our actions respect this fragile balance?

Do you wonder if we embraced the spiritual realm? The realm inhabited by djinns, handi’s and sea spirits? My grandmother believes spirits lurk in the banyan trees, and my mother shared tales of flying orbs of light. She claims the light emanated from fairies. And what about the fanditha-man? He who takes the role of the hero in our old tales? Do you wonder if he was a charlatan? Or a man who traveled between our realm and the realm of spirit?

After a laborious day of fishing and cooking, do you wonder if the community gathered under the equatorial starry night? To share tales and dance together to the hypnotic pulse of boduberu? Perhaps we knew of states of consciousness beyond our normal waking state, and we performed the secret repetitive rhythms that helped us navigate realms of sober intoxication.

I do wonder.

At the risk of not falling prey to the ‘noble savage’ trope, I understand life was gruelling, short and brutish. But I wonder if the awareness of our burdensome lives helped us celebrate the brighter dimensions of it. If the elders are honest, and not clouded by false nostalgia, I think we might have lived more in tune with the earth. It is depressing to witness such division, corruption and the sinful hoarding of wealth. One can not help but feel hatred towards those who force us to work the day away for so little. The constant news of scandals and the absolute lack of empathy is enough to drive one mad. We are disillusioned as to where our place is. And how we can work to create a fair, just and loving island. There is a rightful fear lodged in the deepest depths of our hearts, a fear that is a remnant of life under an autocratic rule.

We must forgive ourselves for the hate and disillusionment that seeks us at every step. Systematically, there is limited space for love and kindness. Greed and the unrelenting drive for economic growth seem to triumph.

And so in times of darkness, we seek spirit.

Seeking spirit is seeking those who provide shelter, care, and love. No matter how incredibly horrible our state of affairs seems to be, we must not convince ourselves that loving kindness has no place in our lives anymore.

Spirit lies in the artist who paints the intricate coral reefs and spirit lies in those who sing songs of joy and suffering. They carry traditions honoring the sacredness of geometry, art, music and dance. Spirit lies in her who contemplates the cycles and rhythms of nature, for it is nature that reveals genuine wisdom and truth.

Spirit lies in the philosopher who poses perplexing questions. And in the writer who expresses her heart through prose and poems. Spirit lies in her who grinds day and night to provide for her family. Spirit lies in she who speaks on behalf of the earth. And it lies in the healthcare worker who spent the past year sacrificing her time and wellbeing for the good of the community.

Spirit lies in stories. It matters little if the stories are true or not. Spirit lies nonetheless. Once you start seeking, you will find that spirit emanates from every dimension of life. From the rising sun’s piercing rays to a mothers gentle embrace. From the melody of waves washing ashore to the labour of the working woman. From the divine design of the mushroom coral to the sophisticated lacquer patterns of the craftsman. And from the catch of the fisherman's trip to the fruits of a farmers labour.

Reclaiming spirit during dark times is a rebellious act. And I invite you to rebel.


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