About 8 PM last night Tomas was hungry. He was talking about cooking pasta and making a sauce from whatever veggies we had in the house. I had been having digestive troubles for the past week and was happy on a diet of yogurt, fruit and oatmeal, so I said I’d pass on Italian food.
There was a knock on the door. Who could that be?
Fatna stood in the hallway holding a plate of marvelously prepared sheep innards in their own, very aromatic, jus. Tomas was in Heaven! All he had to do was cook the pasta and dinner would be ready! What great manifesting Tomas! The look of JOY on Tomas’ face was all the praise Fatna needed. She beamed, said her goodbye and went back downstairs. (Sorry, I did not get a photo but it was beautiful!)
As my stomach had already accepted four pieces of liver earlier that day, I admired and opted out of eating this new creation of intestines, stomach, heart and more liver, cut in bite-sized pieces and piled high on a china plate. I did however, put some of the jus on pasta and tasted the essence of the dish. Mmmm Good!
Today was a major feasting day. But before you can cook, you have to butcher and so we awoke to the sound of some sharp and heavy object connecting with bone. Fatna was cutting up her “mouton.”
Let me add a bit of Islamic teaching here, regarding who needs to slaughter an animal during this festival. Any head of household who has the means to do so. In addition, women who have their own wealth are required to offer an animal, independently of their husbands. I would assume that adult males who have their own families but live within their parent’s home (not uncommon here) would also be required to do the same. In any case, Fatna purchased a sizable sheep which was slaughtered yesterday and then hung in a closet under the stairwell to bleed out overnight.
At noon Tomas polished off the innards and I courageously tried a piece of stomach which was not rubbery or chewy, as I had expected, but tender and delicious. Still, I decided to eat another helping of liver, which had gone down and stayed down the day before, rather than take a risk with this latest culinary adventure.
A few days before the beginning to this festival, I had realized that it would be good if we gave our neighbors gifts. One of the families has two quince trees growing in front of their house and I asked Habiba if I could have some. She graciously gave me a dozen beautiful fruits and I proceeded to turn them into quince conserve (should go well with lamb, I thought.) Saturday, Tomas and I went to the plastic store and bought eight matching containers to give our gifts in.
Sunday afternoon we began passing them out. Being American, I meant for them to keep the containers. But being Moroccan, they returned them today with various choice cuts of lamb and goat meat inside. The irony is that until this weekend we had been pretty close to being vegetarian, occasionally eating meat when we dined out (which was rare.) Well, we now have more meat in our fridge and freezer than I can remember having in years. I began to photograph the “returns” as they came in, because it is abundance at its best and most delicious. We’re still working on the liver!
That’s the one side of our experience. The other side is about the immense gift that Spirit delivered to me (and us) in the form of Community. As I’ve said before, being part of a community has been a dream of mine for many years and in fact it is one of the big draws of our coming to Morocco – to live in the One People Community.
Yesterday morning, as I sat in our salon, trying to quiet my nervous system that was contracting at the thought of seeing an animal killed, I was really empathizing with the sheep that was making those low tones. At some level, that animal knew what was coming. At some level, my ego knew that THIS DAY would be a day of demarcation, after which my life would not be the same. I didn’t quite know how or why or in what form it would happen but there was an innate knowing that my life was about to change BIGTIME!
This afternoon Tomas and I walked over to the waterfall and had a coffee. On the way back, he went on to the store and I went back to the house. Fatna’s door was open and she asked me to come in. Her kitchen is large and has a table (which is rare here – most Moroccans don’t eat in their kitchens.) At the table were three women – I would be the fourth. Hannah was making potato salad. Two young women were assisting and keeping the conversation going. Fatna was at the stove. I watched and learned – how these women did things. Like cutting onions finely without using a cutting board. How to make mint tea. What Moroccan’s put in their potato salad? How to skewer a lamb brochette and how to write the word for that in Arabic script. Then suddenly, the afternoon call to prayer blasted into the kitchen, as though the mosque were there with us. It came through one of the young women’s iphone – apparently there’s an app for that. Why not? So that’s one way the women get in on the prayers, I realized. Very clever! So many new things I learned in such a short time.
I was ready to take my leave but Fatna insisted that I stay to eat. I went upstairs to freshen up and touch in with Tomas, who heartily encouraged me to go back and be with the ladies. He said he would take care of feeding himself but before he could even turn around, Hannah appeared with a wonderful chickpea and lamb dish — ready for him to eat.
I came home an hour later, glowing. One of the young women spoke enough English for me to get across to the group that I really enjoyed being with them and that it did not matter to me that I did not understand much of what they were saying. They all beamed at me to let me know that they enjoyed having me there too and it was not a problem for them that I wasn’t up to speed with the language. This is my greatest motivation to learn more Arabic!
What I sacrificed yesterday was my fear of losing my privacy, along with my tendency to hide out in isolation and solitude. Opening to more and more love takes something. I’m being challenged to receive more than ever before. But love and unity are the way forward; there’s no going back.
And why would I want to. I’m receiving everything I’ve always said that I wanted.
Hamdulillah, ana spat.
Thanks be to God; I am full.