Right. I said in the Spain post that I’d write about my first zikr session, which was in Valencia. I didn’t forget, I just realized I didn’t want to write it. While I enjoy going to spiritual gatherings, I hate talking about them. I don’t like talking about personal religious matters, and although I comply with a grudging smile when asked about my conversion story, inwardly I’m thinking “not again!” Even with people I know, so of course also with most of you that I do not know. Maybe it’s my training in research and ethnography or maybe it’s just me, but it’s just so much easier to talk about other peoples’ works and accomplishments than it is to talk about my own feelings! Anyways, here goes.
It was a Thursday night, and I was headed to Xativa (lovely little town in Valencia province) in my friend’s big, green monster van. The session was to be held at the man’s house who would be leading it. I wish I could have seen Xativa in the daytime as well! I don’t remember what time we arrived, but it was late. With all due respect to the cool people there, I thought I had arrived at hippie central when we got to the house! There was this enormous guy (not fat, just big) with a huge dark brown beard and ponytail, with a lot of medallions, at least six little kids running around, and incense burning. Then, after being fed gazpacho, we were led upstairs to a room with a bunch of cushions, rugs, more incense, and candles. Nothing strange to me now, but since I was new, it kind of added to the “hippie” feel at that time. It was very relaxing, though!
We prayed isha and started the zikr session. It was about 30-45 minutes long (regular Naqshbandi zikr), and very soothing. We sat and talked for awhile afterwards. The drive home was about an hour, and I didn’t get to bed until about 4:00am (I had to get up at 6:00am). Surprisingly (or not), I was fully rested for work the next day and felt great! That same day (Friday), I left for Sevilla.