i really don’t know where to begin. the first few days in India was about trying to remember not to eat with my left hand, (being left-handed, it wasn’t the easiest thing – and i am sure to have offended many people in my forgetfulness), learning how to put rice drenched in curry into my mouth without having half of it dribble down my chin, learning how to shower with one large bucket and two small ones, and trying to sleep more than 4 hours a day. like these Jason programs are, the days are filled with activities… visiting temples, touring the city of Mylapore, watching movies, attending an India wedding, listening to lectures on India’s history and current social issues, van (not bus) rides, interacting with villagers, eating, watching movies, and of course, shopping. we have learned two words in Tamil, which i overuse to compensate for my lack of ability to speak… vannakkam and nandri (hello and thank you). the locals are very happy when i put my hands together in prayer and say vannakkam… they are amused when i do the head wiggle to say hi or to say yes or to say i exist and i see you. all in all, it has been a great cultural immersion experience.
now, let’s take it a step further. dots are connecting left and right. it’s as though the people i speak with are reading my journals, and reading my thoughts. it started for me two days ago… well it probably started a long, long time ago… but anyway… i had breakfast alone. coffee and fruit. i opened up my journal and decided to write whatever comes to mind first. and then i scribbled “don’t ask Life for anything, but rather, accept what is given to you.” i thought, oh wow. that’s a good one. as the day unfolded, i realized the weight of those words. we visited a temple… we listened to the monk speak, and we bought souvenires at the bookstore. but what really happened is that i was taken to the temple, told to wash my feet and remove my shoes, asked to sit in meditation, led to a hall to listen to God’s words pour out of a man who has dedicated his life in devotion to God’s will, and left with the feeling of God’s grace. his words talked about life’s purpose: 1) to awaken ourselves spiritually and 2) to serve others. to awaken spiritually, or manifest divinity in yourself you must: 1) know that each soul is potentially divine, 2) control the internal and external (mind and actions), 3) practice psychic control (meditation), devotion, and action, and 4) yoga – not the frenetic exercise, but the philosophy of yoga – connecting the mind and body in such a way that the mind is quieted and the body is aligned in its silence. listening to him brought tears to my eyes, his words were beautiful and spoke to my soul… words that beautiful can only come from divine inspiration.
then i started to look around in the bookstore. the books i ended up buying were books where i read words that resonated with me when i flipped to a random page. anyway, a series of synchronistic events took place in that bookstore, and in the days to come, some of which will only mean something to me and i’d like to keep it that way. however, i will share that the main theme was facing fears.
now i’d like to share a story from this morning. dulce and i were putting on our saris for the wedding. the sari is the traditional indian dress for women. it includes a skirt, and a top which bears your mid-drift. a beautiful fabric is then tied over to create a dress. different states and difference castes in India tie their saris differently. we didn’t know how to do it so we figured we would find some women in the beauty parlor in our hotel-neighborhood to help us. we had 10 minutes. we threw our fabric around our bodies like a scarf and carried the remaining fabric in a ball in our hands. we tiptoed outside, hoping not to be seen because showing the undergarments is like showing your bra and underwear in public. well, we got outside, the parlor was closed, and men were littered around the lot. we stood there not knowing what to do. then out of nowhere, the single woman in the area poked her head up from behind a car and came over saying “do you need some help?” that was the start of a whole experience that blew me away. she said she would help us. her friends were running late and she had some time. she spoke perfect English and said she used to tie saris for people, so she definitely knew what she was doing. we walked her to our hotel room. i thanked her as we hiked up the stairs. she replied “it has nothing to do with me, God has saved you. and it is a gift for me to help you today.” she tied our saris and talked to us about God. we didn’t ask. she just started to talk. and not about God in the religious sense, but the God that lives in everything and everyone. her words flowed out of her mouth with such a beautiful sound, her eyes revealed just how open her heart was, and she shared with us her own experiences with God. she also found it incredibly synchronistic to see us, two women, looking very strange and foreign, wearing the traditional clothing of her country, searching for truth in the parking lot of a hotel. she said, “i do not believe in coincidence, but i believe in Godincidence.” after all, there are no coincidences.
i listened to her. tears formed in my eyes. i felt joy. i felt grateful. i felt the miracle of Life. there i was, sitting on my bed in India, in a red sari, listening to a complete stranger talk about something so close to me, recognizing truth – I was left without words, but given much feeling in my heart. i cried not because i am sensitive and emotional. i cried because my heart heard the truth. and in that moment, i was liberated.