After eating a meal in Kyrgyzstan, everyone surrounding the table briefly pauses. Conversations go silent, and palms are turned upward, cupped in front of ones chest as if ready to catch falling water. There is a moment suspended, and you can look into people’s faces and upturned hands, often still greasy with sheep fat or besh barmak, and, after many hours of guesting and eating, see contentment. A blessing is said, and hands are raised up and over the face as if slowly splashing water against your cheeks. This is an omeen, often saying the word in unison as you bring your hands to your face.
This happens at a variety of moments in Kyrgyzstan – before a soi, or butchering of any animal, after drinking chai, after a particularly grueling meeting in your office, after a long flight home. It is a moment of united quiet, and it signifies an end, a moment of grace and gratitude. An omeen was explained to me as washing yourself with the blessings of a good meal and good company, literally catching the words in your hands to bathe your spirit in blessings.
And, just passing seven months in country, I know that I am nowhere near the end, but I want to pause and give thanks. For this opportunity. For the incredible support I have received from family, friends, and strangers. For a chance to do something different, learn about myself and a new place and the community in which I live. For the reminder, after ever meal and every cup of tea, to give a moment of quiet thankfulness.
Happy Thanksgiving – I wish you health, success, gratitude, and happiness. Love from me to you, halfway across the world.
Pахмат. Спасибо. Thanks.