Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Things that make me cry….outdated blogposts!

While in Delhi, I found a box of children’s books that Father is collecting, (I assume) to entertain visiting grandkids. I heard him read Anand a story about an owl thinking of sad things, so that he could cry and collect his tears for salt water tea. Teaspoons fallen behind kitchen cabinets, stories that are incomplete because of missing pages, songs that couldn’t be sung because of forgotten words… the list goes on and is heart breaking. Made me think of another item on the list ....outdated/unpublished blog posts…. I wrote this a long time ago (I didn’t have 24/7 connectivity!), became irrelevant as time went on… but was crying to see the light of day!

Written in May 2010, while still in Bangalore as ‘replies to posts’ accumulated over a few months…..
Here’s something I read recently that made me think of relationships, communication, dialogue, and this blog….
“A Dialogue is always an adventure, because we never know where it is going to take us. Through dialogue a relationship comes into being and continues to constitute itself. Dialogue is its life-blood. Dialogue is a dance of self expression where experiences and concerns are shared, where ideas and values are explored, and where feelings and meanings are identified. Dialogue holds the tension of common critical reflection and mutual questions that serve to spark new insights. True communication always includes the continuous excitement of learning. As I listen to other persons, I participate in the mystery of their becoming. As I reveal who I am to the other, I discover myself in a new way. Dialogue is a two-way flow of energy, a giving and a receiving.” Stephens Sims (Seeking the way of love)

I’ve nearly reached the end of my time here in Asha Niketan Bangalore. Two years ago, Anugrah told me, ‘write a blog’. I had no idea what a blog was, and certainly no inclination to write one. As the above quote describes, and if this blog is a form of dialogue, I realize it’s hard for me to give of myself. Acknowledging and accepting my weakness, here, I write, though I’d rather not!

Was good to have Father in the community. Yesterday Kanna spoke of ‘Tu tu tu’s APPA. So father, your presence was felt! (Tu tu tu is kanna’s name for me) Also used his internet card which was fun. I read some of the old posts and felt bad that I never got round to responding or even writing my own post.

Pradeep, when I was in Hyderabad last month we all enjoyed seeing Anand’s mountain climbing and Easter celebration photos. The stick and string man Jesus looked beautiful. Two years ago, Sheila Puliyel sent me a link to African paintings of the Stations of the Cross. Around the same time I met the artist, who did the Stations of the Cross in St. Stephen’s chapel. Both helped me reflect on Christ of the Indian Road, or African Steppe…. Here, on Good Friday, we do our own Stations of the Cross, and last year, Arun Kumar (a young man with Down’s Syndrome) played Jesus. It hit me really hard seeing him enact Jesus on the cross…. The reading from Isaiah – he was despised, rejected, scorned of men, came to me with a new meaning and I thought how comfortably Jesus would have fitted in among my broken brothers and sisters.
This year….what I carry with me is Anand’s Jesus of the sticks and string….

Juliana, I’ve never heard of hibiscus tea… the flower and leaf is used in hair oil and as conditioner. But, in the last 2 years it has become to me a very familiar flower - something I associate with prayer and God’s presence. As part of the routine in the house, we meet for prayer morning and evening. We get the mats & prayer corner ready (decorate with flowers, make sure there is oil and wicks for the lamp, incense and karpoora i.e. camphor for the aarati, and enough kumkum). When I first encountered these symbols, I found it difficult to accept. I have since begun to make sense of some of them. Lighting the lamp represents inviting God’s presence into our time of prayer, decorating the lamp before that with flowers represents an offering of ourselves – fragile and fleeting as the flower that blooms for a day, yet precious to God. The aarati, which is taking the light from the lamp to each person at the end of prayer, is our way of individually receiving and carrying forth God’s presence. And the Kumkum, (I’m still uncomfortable with that) signifies the perspective of God… BE THOU MY VISION! Some food for thought for those of you who have in the past or may in the future join us for prayer. For now, here is a beautiful verse from Tagore’s ‘Geetanjali’ which I think of every time I see a hibiscus blossom. Since it blooms year round in our garden its the most common flower used to decorate the lamp –

“Pluck this little flower and take it.
Delay not! I fear lest it droop and drop into the dust.
It may not find a place in thy garland, but honour it with a touch of pain from thy hand and pluck it. I fear lest the day end before I am aware , and the time of offering go by.
Though its colour be not deep and its smell be faint, use this flower in thy service and pluck it while there is time.”

As I prayer with the others here, whether it’s the jumbled, discordant bhajans of Shyam, Srinivasa’s prayerful intonations, Kanna’s offering of dead and decaying flowers, Babu’s laugh or Theresa’s tears, I recognize in each of these a reaching out to God. One thing that I’m going to really miss at prayers, is Albert’ songs. He taught us a lot of Tamil songs. Some of you knew him, a 20 year old assistant from Tiruvanamalai, TN? He was diagnosed with advanced Kidney failure a year ago. He wasn’t well most of last 2 months and on 30th April he died. It’s hard to accept that he is actually gone. He was so full of life. And hope... there was so much more he wanted to experience. The hardest part of his illness, for me was acknowledging my inability to do anything, and learn to just be with another in their suffering. It was a further glimpse on how life really is for the poor and how close to death, pain and suffering, and yet how full of joy. Although it was painful, sharing this year with him, he has taught me a little more about living life in all its fullness!

Anugrah, thanks for the news articles…Howard Zinn’s death, Oscar Romero’s death anniversary… I would never have known, most of my news is a quick glance at the newspapers, before Kanna neatly tears them up into strips, keeps them under his pillow for the night and thrashes them the next morning. That is called devouring the news!!! Reading Zinn’s people’s history of the USA, was interesting, It talks of history through the perspective of the marginalized – native Americans, women fight for voting right, blacks, workers etc. I wonder what a similar book on Indian history will look like. There are so many margins and so many perspectives. A book that doe come to mind is "Turning the pot, tilling the land " by Kancha Ilaiah. http://navayana.org/?p=139

By July end, I leave Asha Niketan. Travel in August; Delhi in September for a glimpse of the new baby; and come October it’s the MITRA school in Kachapaju, Orissa. Looking forward to the next few months…..The knowledge that I’m leaving enables me to enjoy relationships in a deeper way –been using my days off to do stuff I’ve always wanted to do with people here. It’s really good to live each day thinking that’s all we’ve got. Knowing that reality for Albert the last few months, made me more aware of it myself.

Am also learning not to fear but embrace the uncertainty and the unknown in the months ahead.

Thanks for reading this….and by doing so being part of my ‘becoming’ : )


Juliana Abraham said...

Thank you so much Ashita for your post! I loved the definition of dialogue. I wonder if that would be too long to use as my signature in my e-mail. :) Probably. It was so encouraging to me though. And, so will have to find some place to post it, probably on one of our kitchen cabinets! So, thank you for sharing it!

I hope I can offer this to our girls and Ashish too. And, anticipate this for myself as well.

I've forgotten about the Hibiscus tea. I appreciated your experience with it though. I think that is one of the things I continue to treasure about the Eucharist or Communion. There is just so much to that practice. And, it continues to call us into remembrance of who we are, who Christ is, who we are within the body, etc. Something that is so vital to our health!

Anyway, I agree with Anugrah - you should write more. Or at least journal and then publish!!!


Juliana Abraham said...

Is this the book the comment on dialogue is found in?


Pradeep said...

hey, you write very well! Enjoyed reading your post. Keep them coming!

Ashita said...

HI Juliana,
Thanks for the reply. With encouragement like that – who knows – I might publish some day : )
The quote was from a daily reading I was following. Called ‘Living with Christ” and published by Novalis (I think) it followed the Catholic liturgy. As part of their Lenten readings they had a separate booklet called Sacred Journey and this was from a reflection in that.
I tried replyin to u earlier, but i think it went to 'no replies!'or something like that!: )
look forward to seeing you all soon and to further dialogues!