Be(com)ing Saaliha

[Bahasa Indonesia]

There is a common practice in Indonesia: Whenever a child is born, we pray that the child would grow to become a Saalih (male) or Saaliha (female).

The word “Saalih” in Arabic (from the root: Sad-Lam-Ha) means = good, proper, sound, reconciled, pious, devout, virtuous, in alignment. Gosh, how rich. I was also told once that it meant “the one without blemish.”

Hence, when we utter such prayer for the newborn, we wish that the newborn would grow to become someone who is in complete alignment with God, who naturally does good, righteous, honest acts, who would be the light of compassion among his/her people.

As with many things in life, however, we—or perhaps it’s better for me to say “I”—use this saying way too lightly, almost without giving it a second thought of what we are praying for. It is simply something we habitually say for a newborn.

I had never honestly given it some thoughts, until about a year ago, when I got so engrossed with being a servant (of God). People talk about being in union with God a lot (well, the people I hang out with, that is :p), but I am not so much into that, not consciously, not explicitly, and not directly—not that I know of.

I am more into being a servant to God. There is nothing fancy about it. It’s not like there was glimmering light shining upon me giving me inspiration to become His servant.

It started out with the simple, innocent idea that maybe, just maybe, it would be nice to give the authority to ‘somebody else’ to make the decisions for me. There just have been too many intersections in life, too many—or to few sometimes— options to choose from, too many decisions to make, and too many responsibilities to take on.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we can just simply let those go and let Somebody else make all those decisions for us and let Him take care of all those for us? All we have to do is to nod to whatever He says, smile, and give thanks. All we have to do is to follow whatever He guides us to do. Or better yet, to totally let go and let Him do all the work.

A servant does not have any will of her own. There is only His Will. Even if there is a choice she has to make, it will only be whether to surrender/stay with Him.

Please note: I am not saying that we can lie about and do nothing in life. Don’t mistake surrender with laziness. There is a difference between “giving in to Life” and “giving up on Life.”

Anyhow, that innocent idea spiraled out in my life into something that I could not possibly have foreseen before. That intention to be a servant has become a mount for me that take me where I am today.

The consequence of desiring to be a servant is stripping me off from layers and layers of selfish—and often unbefitting—desires and compelling me to meet someone I don’t always want to meet: me. One thing that helps me, is a friend’s beautiful invitation:

Let’s focus on what is, and not on what’s not. And what is, is He.

This allows me to shift my sight and return to centre. It reminds me to stop, turn and prostrate, over and over again. It helps me to repose. And I realize, what a beautiful process it has been, still is, and I believe will always be. I feel blessed. And I feel blessed to feel blessed.

I said this to a friend just last night: “Life is so simple.” The only hint we need is: “surrender.” Life flows. Let it carry us with it, believing, knowing, that it is He who carries us with unconditional Love.

The word, the name, Saaliha, is a prayer, a reminder, and help to realize that perfect servanthood in me, in us. It is a request to be in complete alignment with Him. To be able to listen, really listen. To be able to follow with complete conviction. To be able to witness Love and only Love, the way only He can.

May He make it easy for you and me.

Pictures taken from here, here, and here.

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