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Ramadan Notes, Late Afternoon, Day 8

Yesterday as I got off my bike and was about to climb the short stairs to our front porch, I noticed a spider, not small, suspended in the middle of the wide stairs. I looked up to see if she was hanging from a branch of the flowering dogwood that dominates our front yard, the tree the previous owners of the house planted in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.

But above me, clear grey sky. Where was the spider hanging from? What was she connected to? I went to left of her and as I walked up the stairs, I felt the sticky strand of web across my face, my hands. She trailed after me, floating in thin air, bound by the web between us.

I know there are people reading my account of fasting because there are comments below, and because people email me to tell me they have read it. It is not at all like in 2007 when I wrote privately in my notebook, a notebook which to date I have only showed the three other people.

This writing feels like secret writing, but it is the most unsecret of all. The other day my mother, home from a pilgrimage to the Middle East, told me that she was reading also. All along I have worried about being alone, but in this strange incorporeal space, I find myself connected to numbers and numbers of other beings.

Though the blankness of the day, of the wall in front of me, or in this case the screen, makes it a very different expression than inscribing words onto paper, a physical paper that cannot be transmitted universally, only shared body by body.

But perhaps this is a better demonstration of the difference between body and spirit. They are not different matters at all, not opposites, one not mortal and the other immortal, rather they are each different methods of transmission of the same essential thing, our true inner natures, a thing we haven’t yet found an adequate word for, and perhaps it’s best the way.

Truth should be wordless.

In the spirit of this community, of this house that I now live in which was lived in by its builders for fifty-four years, and by the people whom they sold it too for forty-four years after that, I have invited students and friends to come each Friday during Ramadan and have fast-breaking dinner with me.

Last night I cooked and cooked–rice and salad and chole, my own secret recipe! I had no idea who was coming as I had issued the open invitation. I assumed whomever came would be my guest.

But what if I had no guests? I had to prepare anyhow. You do not know what is going to happen.

Right when you think there’s no one, there’s someone. Right when you think there’s someone, there’s no one.

The spider hanging in the doorway floated behind me.

Fasting is a secret it is hard to tell.