This is a continuation of Hajj journal, chapter 1. The first leg of our trip took us from New York to Madinah. Once we got to the airport I continued to muse on the things for which I would ask God’s forgiveness. In a lecture I had listened to in preparation for hajj, the sheikh described the day of Arafat as the most important day of a Muslim’s life. I recalled the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) words about the day of Arafat:

There is no day on which Allah frees more of His slaves from Fire than the Day of Arafat, and He verily draws near, then boasts of them before the angels, saying: “What do they seek?”

December 29, 2005, ~9:15 p.m. At JFK. Feeling really good now after a brief bout of “eye ache” [pain in my eyes that’s often a precursor to a migraine]. I drank a tall Starbuck’s Americano and now I feel much more energized. I also got myself up and chatting, which helped. Talking to a friend, I found out her story is much like mine, although she’s a born Muslim from the middle east. She didn’t practice her deen for many years; about four years ago she returned to being a practicing Muslim, although her family hasn’t necessarily followed suit. Like me, she will be making du’a on Arafat for her closest family.

This afternoon on the way home from lunch Daughter kind of laughingly made reference to stupid terrible things I did as a mother and it made me cry. On Arafat I will have so much to beg forgiveness for as a mother. I apologized to her and told her my “bad mother moments” are top on the list of things I will ask to be forgiven for. I still can’t imagine what that day in Arafat is going to be like. There are so many things I’ve done wrong that have kind of hidden or festered somewhere inside me because of my inability to manage my feelings about them. I can only imagine what it will feel like to confront my guilt, acknowledge it, feel it as really part of my life and part of me and then beg for pardon.

…~Midnight, I think. Aboard Saudi Air flight 34 headed to Madinah. The flight was scheduled to leave at 9 and just now left, but it was a delay I was prepared for, as we’ve been told again and again to anticipate delays and that patience will be essential to successfully navigate and finish this trip and the hajj. The plane has TV screens that during taxiing transmit the picture from a camera mounted outside the plane. When at long last the plane came to the takeoff strip and began speeding over the white arrows pointing out, out, out, I felt that now I am a pilgrim; now the pilgrimage has begun.

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