I recently went to a good friend’s wedding, and I wanted to share a few experiences with you.  She and I used to live together almost twenty years ago.  She’s the godmother of my eldest daughter (which in itself is a funny story).  She and her family have been a source of strength and inspiration for me, especially in the past two years during my time of darkness and emergence into the light.  She and her partner have been through a lot together and come out stronger than ever before, and it’s a joy to visit them.  I was honoured to be invited to their wedding at the Jerrahi Sufi Centre.

Friday night the Micron and I attended my friends Kina Gece- a Turkish bridal henna party- and had a lovely evening amongst girls and women of all ages and backgrounds, united in our celebration of our good friend’s impending nuptials.  Then we slept over at a friend’s place, Em.

Saturday morning my friend Em and the Micron and I went to the local market, picked up some Portugese buns, vegetables to grill, some smoked gruyère and spiced havarti, some spicy mustard and some tzaziki.  We marinated the vegetables, sliced bread, cheese and tomato so that all would be ready once we got downtown. 

The plan was that Em, the Micron, My Fella and I would all go downtown for a friend’s housewarming party BBQ. Em would stay at the BBQ, whilst the rest of us would head back out west to the location of the event. Unfortunately, circumstances intervened.  The major highway leading us into the city was closed, and I wasn’t that familiar with the lay of the land.   We were supposed to be leaving the BBQ around 4:20 in order to get to the wedding on time, and already it was 3:30.  We were in the middle of heavy traffic, and weren’t convinced it would be feasible to make the BBQ on time.

So we made the decision to go to the Sufi Centre.  Em was a bit nervous that her shortish skirt and tights wouldn’t be conservative enough dress, but I offered her a headscarf so at least that aspect was covered!  Tummies grumbling, we made our way tot he Centre which mercifully was nearby.

As we arrived, we had to wind our way past a gazebo tent to park in the back of the building.  The tent was up because that day they were celebrating a “Community Day”, and were BBQing lots of meat to give away to local residents as a thank you for welcoming the Centre (which had only opened up in late 2008) into the neighbourhood.  They gladly cleared off the grill of the charred meat and cooked up a bunch of our vegetables for us.  We donated our tomato, cheese, mustard, tzaziki and buns to the cause.  Em and the Micron both enjoyed some meat, My Fella and I savoured roast portabellos and zucchini and red peppers.   Talk about one door closing and another one opening!

As usual, the Sufi community was warm and welcoming.  The ceremony was casual and funny at times, the Sheikh disagreeing with Hawking’s (“Einstein’s grandson, my crippled friend”) assessement that meeting aliens would be bad for humanity.  Aliens would would be welcome at the dergah/mosque, just so long as they parked their UFOs properly. 

The bride was absolutely lovely in a custom-made dress brought over from Turkey.  I had tears in my eyes for the vision of her.  I’ve always known her as a goth or punk, so to see her so radiant in some traditional garb was a shock and a pleasure.  Her mother, father and sister were glowing with pride and joy, and I know I wasn’t the only one swept along in the the overall aura of love.

Two dervishes whirled as musicians played and other dervishes performed what I would deem a mini-zikr.  The percussive sound of the men’s voices created a beat that resonated in my chest.  It’s said that G*d lives in everyone’s heart, and as the dervishes repeated their ilahis, my little piece of G*d responded and throbbed.  Then the ney played reinforcing a sung prayer, and it was divine breath on earth, making the hair on the back of my neck rise, and bringing more tears to my eyes and a rapturous moment of forgetting all worries, leaving behind my “monkey mind” and being caught up in the beauty.

We said our prayers, and the sound of dozens of pairs of lips quietly mouthing the silent words struck me.  Although no-one was speaking, you could still hear the whisper sounds of S, like a worshipful chorus of crickets, or a sudden gust of wind through tall grass in the summer.

When we pray, angels gather around to pray also and to record our deeds. As a seal to our devotions, we turn our head to the right and left to greet the congregation of these creatures of light.  As-salamu alaikum wa rahmatulah.  That evening, I was surrounded by family and friends- old and new- and was truly grateful to be able to greet and thank the angels and all those around for being there, and wish them peace and love.

Mashallah, S & J.  And thank you.