My first apartment in Detroit leaked. Little gaps in the crumbling brick let in rain and frigid tendrils of air with enough strength to blow out my candles and a weird amount of curiously dead wasps that I never saw alive. My floors were constantly covered in a gritty red dust, no matter how much I swept. I paid too much in rent. I was newly graduated, newly 26, newly moved, newly broke, and I wasn’t making it work.
I remember the day I discovered the leak. It was spitting cold rain, the perfect kind of Michigan late fall weather. I didn’t (and still don’t) have a car and I had spent all night tossing and turning thinking about my rent (too high) and the drip of the water falling from my ceiling (like a demented in-house Rainforest Café). I was running late to work. Standing and staring at the brackish water creeping up to the lip of one of my two nice pots, the idea of getting on a bike and riding through the rain seemed unimaginable. I was still running late to work. I was tired and emotional and broke and all I could think was “why can’t anything be easy? If this is what I’m supposed to be doing why is everything so hard?” I was running even later for work. I called an uber with the approximately $25 in my bank account. The uber would cost $10. I lost my umbrella somewhere between Chicago and Detroit. I was running late and I hate being late and I had $15 to last me the next eleven days and why couldn’t this be easy and my upstairs neighbor was starting his band practice (loudly and badly) and I was going to cry and I never cry why was I being such a whiner and the water still dripped, brick red, in time with my racing thoughts.
I got in the uber.
The driver as affable and polite. A sweet man who didn’t comment on my red eyes and rain frizzy hair. We set off and immediately were stopped by a flock of about 75 geese crossing Second and Charlotte. Just a silly amount of ambling, slow, honking geese. My frustration had feathers. The driver looked in his rearview mirror at me and said, smiling, “look at all these geese miss. Beautiful birds. Masha’Allah for the geese.”
Masha’Allah meaning God willed it. Masha’Allah meaning God made it to be so in our lives, an act of love and blessing. It was like someone reached down and plucked me right out of my spiral – startling, like a blast of cold air after leaving a crowded and overwarm room. God has willed all this beauty in your life. It’s there even when you don’t or can’t see it. Take a sip babe. It’s going to be okay.
It was and is tempting to make a big moral and religious lesson out of this moment but I’m going to resist. All the problems that I had before I got in that uber still existed. But they didn’t last forever. Nothing is so bad that it never ends. I’ve moved into a new place (lower rent), I have more than $25 in my bank account, and own more than two nice pots (brag). But sometimes I still wake up and it feels like someone took the last 26 years of my life and moved everything three inches to the left. Not particularly noticeable but I keep banging my knees. In those moments I often think of the geese and that uber driver and remember that God put us on this Earth to feel joy, to smile, to grow and change, and to look at the birds on a cool September morning.
I hope you’ve found your geese. Masha’Allah.