It started as a Wisconsinite reunion, because there are five of us here. We met up at Bahjí, the most holy place for Bahá’ís, and afterwards three of us traveled into Akko. That brief journey was complicated by missing our stop on the sherut, which resulted in us hiking toward the old city through an apparent construction zone covered with sand and the occasional concrete amalgamation. But the important thing is that we got there and counted forty waves.
At the end of Bahá’u’lláh’s Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, there’s a passage in which Bahá’u’lláh quotes proverbs about Akko attributed to Muhammad, including:
The Apostle of God—may the blessings of God and His salutations be upon Him—hath also said: “He that looketh upon the sea at eventide, and saith: ‘God is Most Great!’ at sunset, God will forgive his sins, though they be heaped as piles of sand. And he that counteth forty waves, while repeating: ‘God is Most Great!’—exalted be He—God will forgive his sins, both past and future.”
So we clambered up a steep path to the top of the sea wall, hoping to have our sins forgiven, and counted the forty waves. Waves are more difficult to count than I anticipated–judging when they’ve broken is pretty subjective. Maybe if I had paid more attention in Oceanography class sophomore year…
Walking back along the sea wall, I appreciated the occasional sea breeze that would rush in through an opening. Under the oppressive sun, it wasn’t so hard to imagine how suffocating the city must have been when the Holy Family arrived.
Today, I was talking to someone about journaling. “It’s easy to keep up a daily journal when you’re in a new place, a new situation,” I said, “but once you get into a routine, it’s harder to find something to write. ‘Today I did the same as yesterday.'” She contemplated, and said, “That’s an interesting question–how to make every day special?”
I don’t know that every day can be special–special cannot be the norm, can it?–but I try to appreciate the small experiences of each day, whether that means a lizard rescue (this one escaped but left behind his tail), a scoop of cardamom ice cream, fuchsia bougainvillea arching overhead, or the haunting song of my Peruvian friend, intoning in Arabic as she wipes down the banisters of a staircase I happen to enter.
Not every day will find me praying at the seaside, but there will always be windows in the wall offering fresh breezes.