We have arrived…in the Appalachian mountains, in the heart of the Cherokee nation. We are exhausted. I’m not sure if this program should be called a retreat. The schedule is intensive with back-to-back classes that begin early in the morning before Fajr and end late at night after Isha. So the day basically runs from around 5am to 11pm, or is it 4 am to 11 pm? You know I had to digress from the schedule though, right? I do have a little one, after all. And I’m so happy to see that there are other mommies here with their babies, having to take walks outside to get the little ones asleep. There is babysitting though…but of course, I’ll be interrupting that so that Noora can get her nap, or else we will never survive this.
Alhamdulillah, it’s a beautiful place. Tennessee, or at least what I’ve seen from Knoxville and Tallico, is a great example of Southern hospitality. No matter who we bump into whether Muslim or non-Muslim has a friendly smiling face and kind words to offer, mashAllah. It almost makes me want to move here. Almost. It’s too country. So country that we had to drive an hour from the airport to get to this campsite that’s nestled in the woods, and I couldn’t find many places to shop besides old mom and pop stores that looked like they were on the brink of closing down if they hadn’t already, and Walmart….and those are miles away.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I like it here. And even though I cannot attend every session because I take my mommy duties seriously, I am blessed in that both my husband and mother-in-law are here, and can fill me in with notes on what I miss. That means you get the goods too! Well the gist of the goods inshAllah. Because I can hardly keep my eyes open to write this one entry. And I kind of feel like I’m cheating because I’m staying at a lodge 11 minutes away from the campsite with wifi. Oh well, I don’t think Noora and I would do too well in the bunks. We’d get voted out, Survivor Style, for sure. Then, no one would get any sleep. It’s better this way inshAllah.
I’ll have to fill you in with more later…(tomorrow), but I wanted to share one thought and some pictures with you from outside of my lodge. The thought: Dr. Umar Faruq AbdAllah reminded us very elegantly of the significance of the place where we are staying (Coker Creek, Tellico Plains, TN). It’s the heart of what was the Cherokee nation, a people that had Islam among them, just like the Africans brought to the Americas as slaves. The point was that America’s roots were never too far from Islam. It’s nothing new, it’s been here all along, and it’s as much a part of American history and tradition as any other thing. Islam is part of the soul of America. And I’m not quoting; I’m generalizing. MashAllah. This is something I’m going to have to delve deeper into inshAllah–I’ve been inspired with another historical adventure!
As for the pictures…I found a flowering tree that I’ve never seen before. Does anyone know what it is? And my favorite part outside the lodge is the walking path made of cross-sections of trees. What a beautiful reminder of the natural path we are on to journey to our Lord.