While I technically missed Eid ul-Fitr, I wanted to make sure I had sufficiently met the requirements of the zakat before learning another tradition. Cleaning the bathrooms for the guys was considered a very charitable act by everyone in the community, but I also wanted to do something for the poorer population. Only getting $50 bucks every two weeks limits the amount of donations I can give. However I decided that I would send money back to St. Ben's, my old ministry in Milwaukee, WI, for a fund that exists there to help cover the cost of prescription co-pays.
This being my first year of celebrating Ramadan and the traditions incorporated with the holiday, I'm kind of "winging" things as I go along. Understanding the Eid ul-Fitr, understanding the takbeer, getting the actual dates and times correct, and then finding a meaningful and relevant way for me to celebrate these events as a Capuchin Franciscan-I try to navigate between being true to my own faith while being respectful and true to the Islamic faith and tradition. While part of me continues to wish I'd had someone to join me in this endeavor...either as a guide to the holiday or someone to explain more of the spiritual aspects, I hope that I am not doing a disservice or a great offense by my simple interpretations.
With that said, I've made a plan for the Eid prayer tomorrow, in part from the writings at al-islam.org. Wanting to be respectful of what is considered Mustahab (virtuous, recommended), my celebration will include the following:
1. In the morning I will venture out into our "back 40." Barefoot and in habit, we have a chair a chair I can put in the middle of the field. For my takbeer, I have chosen Psalms 135, 95, and 145 for reading and prayer. Tomorrow is also the memorial for Padre Pio, so I'll choose an acceptible reading...keeping with the theme of doing good and resisting evil.
2. In order to reach out to people I haven't seen or talked to in a while, I've already started writing letters to people I haven't talked to in a while. Having taken this time to reflect and improve myself through the prayer and fasting, I want to take time to remember others instead of just focusing on myself.
3. My celebratory meal with the community will have to be put on hold...since after my trip to the dentist I can only eat pudding and apple sauce. My goal is to make dinner for the community as a way of sharing my skills while celebrating the end of the feast.
While this has not been the perfect model for a Catholic Christian to celebrate Ramadan as a time for personal prayer and growth, it has been of great benefit to me. It is an event I hope to continue learning about, so that I can be a better observant next year.
Once again, my apologies for any discrepencies or misunderstandings of the Islamic holidays. Hopefully next year I'll have someone who I can "buddy-up with" during the month of fasting!