never knew we are befriended by the cries of aloneness like never before ….
We need each others faces and voices and arms of tenderness; love is no more an old fashioned abused thing; as a race we are hungry for Touch and hugs… we are not alone, just befriended by an aloneness waiting waiting to be fed.
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There was no ‘magic’ in Penja’s bowl, nothing but her basic steamed rice in turmeric & garlic fried curries.
If we were fortunate we were treated to stir fried onion rings, tomato pickles and home made breads.
When Penja served you her glass of water it was in copper tumbler scoured clean with tamarind. She didnot own one store bought masala tin or even toothpaste. When you had her rice cooked in earthen ware, you smelt the rice field it had grown in; you were made to think of the farmer’s ride to the grain bazaars …of hands that bore that rice sack to the city all the way to Penjas store room next to her mango tree and coconut stack.
All this made you feel well. It cured Dantri’s asthma, and Shom’s colic. We didn’t talk of it but we knew. If anyone saw Penja whispering in her pot as she cooked, no one said anything about that. We just knew it worked.
She had no visible gods and goddesses in her rooms or in her compound where she lived alone with her mint garden and pomegranate. Oh she served pomegranate in juices, in salads, in curd, with dessert, or by itself. Oneday she told us how we had everything to live well, and how to thank God for the workers who brought them to us. It was confusing at that time. Like we were responsible for causing that much work to farmers. Or God. But Penja, our neighborhood friendly aunt lived grateful. So everything she touched spilled with that emotion. I’m thinking it’s a cure all by itself: gratitude to mankind, the planet and God for all favours received, and for necessary or unnecessary hardships. It all clung together somehow, all of us going round and round the sun in a merry go round of events that made sense or none, but it was like algebra. It worked itself out if you were patient and waited for itself to settle. Somethings didn’t settle fast. Like trigonometry for me, or tonsillitis. Not till after the surgery, and after my throat stopped feeling like a thousand cuts, after which there were food restrictions and no icecreams till later. Penja felt kind especially during those times. She made illness and pain feel important and celebrated. I got a eucalyptus throat wrap and inhaled sweet camphor under our guava tree, the one with tiny anthill and crumbly sand. It all was gold washed in sunset or early noon. You let the sun fall on you, it made you feel altogether and not odd. You picked that up from Penja if you lived nearby or stopped over on the way back from school.
Penja had a ritual of sitting a few moments every now and then to be still. We were too young to know the depth of that. But it felt good to watch when we could. It was like the sky and earth met up somewhere between her ears and gave her joy. This was more than Peace. She had been a young widow, now she was silver white like her cotton saris and ragged hymn book. Oh a golding white, like ripe corn in a setting sun….her hymn book, her prayer sheets and hands – as if they were rinsed in Light. That’s all I could think even back then. Even her low voice singing words hard to decipher, my guess is they each were thankyou words, she loved God like that. Like a personal Person. She was too much a home body to go out to a chapel but it was all in her heart someplace shining out her eyes.
She died recently and left me a legacy I’m trying to pursue in these days of Essential Existence ~ in the art of tomato chutney seasoned with curry leaf or roasted red chillie/ cumin seed. Yeah, all those chillie farms and onion braids in bazaars ripe with God’s own aromas of life.
Oh and her pomegranate juices, they made you think differently of ordinary events like after -school messy socks and trails of homework, ugh. Sigh yes! Like an Elixir.
Penja, wherever you are out there in His Courtyards, I love you for making me think of all that now.
Alone, all the way. No likes or approval. Not a single friend that deadly Friday. After all the miracles and love, everything died. No visitors in your cell, no long last hugs except the 40 lashes. Your last Song, a lone cry, “Father forgive them they know not what they do.”
Sometimes I feel You more than other days, days of alone. Then I thankyou for these times, here we are closest to the ‘disgrace of the Cross’. Here there is no applause, no data of glory. Just the loneliness. Here I meet You best, my Saviour, Friend. Here alone.
I haven’t understood this – as much as I have during this past year: I’ve bitten into Its wood, Its Bleed. Its brutal honesty.
How do I identify with It’s utter ‘Insanity‘..
Why did the Christ do what He did, how does It help Humans?
When you break thresholds of pain, there is no pretence: Here you might forget what you knew & be provoked enough to see the Unseen:
~(Rejection is one of the Experiences one might process here,
~ Severance from human praise/ recognition.
~Acquired values re- group.
~When all is shredded, stripped naked, the human spirit is truly alone with his/ her source. Here there is no ‘I’ except in Its best possible way.
~Here, is ‘abandonment’. Buddha tried it, our wise men and sadhus go to the mountains, some sit years under a tree, in cave, for that ‘enlightenment’). ~When all human support is withdrawn, all expectation, one is free. Freed.
This takes you to another Place: some have names for it:
~A place of Quiet, where human standards/ learned behaviour/symptoms of dis-ease cease to control you: this is a new Place. We aren’t familiar with Its one Event: Friendship with the Invisible Friend.
♡ This is a zone where pain is Highest Common Factor; one thanks it for bringing them here.
This ‘here’ begins to re-arrange one’s own personal rules:
◇ You stand unafraid of ‘Alone’; free of human bondage, from Conditions required to be Happy. Happy is a 1% of This. (Wounds lose their power over you: you stop chewing on them).
◇You heal. Your scar makes you a new you: gravity isn’t existent in your dreams, your prayers. Nor human embrace/ respect. You transform.
◇You experience Beauty, Love. Acceptance. Courtesy to each other, unconditional of returns.
Christ of the Cross is more than printed religion. His Cross is an impossible to fully comprehend just yet un- negotiable symbol of the power of emotional (often physical) healing.
It changes the soul of your fibre, It bares to you your neighbours‘ soul, as your priority.
It smashes ego, but elevates respect for even you.
It raises the bar on compassion, It bends your nature to forgive; It shows you how negating pride is, how devastating to your purpose, & how lust wipes out life.
It exposes devices of Fear.
The Person of the Cross takes my itinerary: re- routes cowardly escape plans, away from selfabsorption/ destruction.
♡ It is unafraid of ‘loneliness’. It needs that space for progress.
I do not need my burden of being right all the time. I am a learner.
I appreciate the struggles of humanity/ blest by fellow-creations. Gratitude begins. It is a river of music and joy, of Forgiveness and lack of self adoration.
I look outward, I look within. It takes a certain recklessness to cut umbilical chords of acquired selfishness..
run barefoot through it, sing, worship, be all I was meant to be, whipped of discourtesy to the kingdom of God within us each, for free.
Here, I taste a new thing, a certain change of needs. The taste of dying selfishness, a resurrection of new eyes, looking away from dead habits.
And this: I see my heart, my core. There is a lot of condemnation. It is the worst kind of ‘nation’, the worst virus. I must shed that snakeskin, & forgive wasted time in order to forgive/ bless anything else.
All of this, courtesy of the Cross.
There’s more, a Designer more. Your prints differ from mine. We are nothing, and everything. Let’s not underestimate each others power in this life. You have my respect, I love you anew: you …flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone.
I don’t understand much, but my iris and iota are changing. Our blood, our DNA, are transient gifts, for specific use. I don’t want to miss a thing about this existence, nor misunderstand a single experience. This isn’t about my portfolio, my pitch, my bacteria, my journey is perhaps just an invisible weave in the tapestry of you.
We don’t have to understand flowers and bees and the generation of birds and black holes, or meteors flying around @ 20,000kms / minute? to let out the miracle of healing:
let it out of human-made cages, and let our songs sing,
Or let that song break our acres of deafness…
Or blindness. Have you watched a blind person listen to a song? Or a deaf person lip read? Or a lame one watch others’ running feet?
Sometimes we lose a little to access Treasures hidden in dark places. We are each others’ at the Cross. I went there to complain, and He points me to my brother, my sister: their shadow is my face.
I do not even want to understand it, it is complicated and not ‘nice’: if someone does understand it all then it’s not all they’ve seen. Here we must cling to no shame, or pretence : I understand how little I like the way Christ loves everyone equally.
Ugh, the Paradox of True Love:
♡ It provokes hate, because mankind lives to love self. If we worship anything, it is mostly a method to gain favour in the eyes of gods of wealth and superiority.
The Cross’s two beams intersect at the crux of the need for love. I went there for comfort, and He asks that we comfort one another. That’s why the Cross is hated. Misunderstood. Read as a symbol of weakness. Try forgiving/ love….when your thresholds of pain are at break neck maximum.
I know, tough. We lack that genre of maddening courtesy. We try, we stare.
This photograph ‘Homeless woman‘, from Helen Cherry’s stunning Blog gazed at me all yesterday through Sunday dinner and warm sheets and bed; through our roof in pre-dawn mist and warm breakfast this morning. I can’t get her out of my hair. Her and the billions of Us, asking, asking, asking Questions in a Silence that’s growing. Growing in isolation.
In a country like mine, India, where 46 million people live under poverty line (2019, correct me if I’m wrong), begging is no unusual event but this Photograph from a London Street (thankyou Helen for your heart stilling Capture) stokes some more soul searching questions:
Global Questions steadily turning us to begging bowls, they’re steeping deeper with Time and lack of Space. Our questions morph into statements:
will there be rice enough for our farmers. Will there be rain. Will there be water. Will there be war, peace. Is there house enough for all. What makes poverty. Who can help the ‘poverty line’. Where does tax money go. Who is that person sitting on cardboard in the street. Is he/ she really a beggar. Why am I suspicious of everyone I don’t fully understand. Do I have a spare wardrobe I can share, a spare coin, a blanket, a meal. Can I be a friend to someone who’s homesick, needs a friend..
seriously, if one of us took note of one other person in genuine need, that’s half of 7 billion looking out for the other half.
How do we figure out genuine need: I’m pretty sure we are smart enough to decipher things like that.
In my corner of the earth, these things are highly shareable :
last year’s text books, story books, clothes/bags/shoes/a little pocket money, yes tricky/ a smile, trickier/ a phone call….😏 a prayer/ …. a shared meal, sheets I can part with, a blanket I don’t need...there’s a person that collects our newspapers and sells it, old books… how many rupees does he get from that? Oh so little, but it makes him happy. Last year this time, the good Lord (only He would/ could), put it on our hearts to cook Sunday lunch for anyone who’d fellowship with us…. I’m not a great cook and we don’t serve a lavish table, but we’ve watched a certain joy tiptoe in at our home. And it’s never left. We’ve received some great new friends, and its turning me into a whole strangely different person. I’ve received hugs and heart; received smiles like we didn’t know were there anymore; received healing and laughter. Received the courage to believe in humanity again. Watched some young lives stand tall, unbreak. Watched myself go from a recluse into a person who looked forward to meeting new faces. Watched new people pray for our sick son. Watched, heard, experienced the love of strangers turn my cold insides into a warmth I have no proper words for.
We live in an Age of Suspicion. It’s gotten so awry it’s real. A certain amount of suspicion is even good, but peer below the layer of fake and Con, and we may find some genuine people whom we can not only bless, but be blessed back by.
We were meant to live in these, these tough insane wildly hurtful times. We have this growing awareness in us, that probably our forefathers could not have had: an awareness of depleting resources and human understanding. We balk at politicians and global warming. We are well-read and clever. We know Theories and Consequences of War. We are efficient, highly informed and intelligent. We are frightened easily, hence careful, paranoid, terse, polite, warned. We feel deeply, so we write and poetise, paint, read, gripe. We who are so well endowed, are the cream of a global society that’s screaming for basics of heart soul, body mind. Not all of this is something Governments can easily provide. We are Social watchmen. We are our own DoorKeepers, and Guide. Who are we, we are Humans like never before. We are Teachers and Givers, Recipients…
but this :
we do not know how to Receive. Go to an Orphanage and receive a child’s hug. An old person’s smile. A Druggie’s tears. Spend 5 minutes / day just watching the street you pass everyday. Be an anonymous Burger donor. Anything. Just do it, Angel. Yes, you. Me. Tough, ofcourse. Aren’t you and I bone tired of being boring people, noses burrowed in our news: prophets of gloom. Watch a new smile spread in a brand new face all because of you. What a kick that is. Receive what you get when you bless another’s need.
A peasant, she who shares the street with rats and pillows of concrete? The feral cats from alley beats lick the food stuckto her feet. Day and night she hunts for eats, old clothes disposed become her sheets…..
….stop to greet a human drenched from summer’s heat and frozen by the winter’s sleet- a fate no woman dreamed she’d meet.…