Inspired by a real life 5 year old I met one monsoon at a school for slum kids,
you’d never forget ‘Raju’ the school called him. His folks called him ‘chokra’ for street boy. There was no hatred at his home, only the face of poverty, the numbing face of sleepless days and nights. His parents were construction workers.
When Raju first arrived in a pair of oversized torn shorts, shirtless and with eyes like tiny thunder, he wouldn’t speak. I was story telling art teacher; we did some fun things, enacting Jesu in the boat. Raju loved being the storm.
By the third day we knew he loved drawing – with one crayon, the black one. He drew thick circles in black, then some more. Pages of black circles.
I was recovering from 3 years of a fever no one could diagnose, it could’ve been anything, but I was there every morning as a part of my own ‘get well’ project;
It was, is an unforgettable thing – to experience that sinking feeling of instability, physical failing, & be in a ‘Gully’ that thick with hope.
Lil Raju and I became speechless friends as we learned the power of blue against black, or orange with grey, yellow with maroon. He called me “didi”, big sis.
Every morning he was there, waiting for Art class, and drama, in the street opposite the tea shop.
On the last day I ever saw him he clutched my hand and said, “Didi mujhe ghar leke jao” (didi, take me home)
I loved him with all my heart, and I couldn’t take him home with me. There were at least 50 others like him but ofcourse Raju was the one no one liked. He was full of lice, his fingers were quick, he knew how to steal, he understood the street, he was scary to most. To me he was that little baby boy I couldn’t take home. But forever and ever he lives in my heart.
“The boy with no name” is a fantasy offering that has little pieces of my own life woven in its prayers for joy, for all our streets, infested with poverties of more horrific proportions than we could’ve guessed. Do watch if you have the moment: return to childhood, listen again to that Still Small Voice that ceaselessly whispers to the heart of a child within us, or around. If there’s a kid (or kiddy- like human:) in your home, or neighbourhood, do share. This is the second episode. (Part I, U tube, also below).
And I’d thought this Cross was a symbol of suffering: but It is more. It’s a coat hanger for my soul…. but more, more! Now and then, I’m shredded by life. Now and then dragged into chasms alone… so I thought. So we think, we humans.
We are suicidal, sick, disabled, dependent on human resource; we are hostage, we are criminal. But
You standing next to me, in me: crossing out evil, negating my dark;
You pouring words through my lips of clay,
You rinsing my hands and feet o’er and o’er; You saying words in my ears I could not have found on my own. Words like a 2edged Sword- one edge cutting away death, the other granting me life:
You, shining a trillion times x infinity- more than all our suns: Your Light stark blazen smashing every last snicker of evil, every stinkn’ shroud casting its net in my bones, in the soul of my nation, my borders, my dregs… blazing with Your light…. personified by the Cross.
This Cross more potent than Light as we know it, Its reach deadlier than sin and hell; what force can separate me from its Love nailing me to Its heart, Its Heaven, Its Immortal Vein? ….NOTHING. NOTHING. NOTHING. IT IS THE BRANDING FIRE OF GOD, IT holds my breath, my pulse my all. My all.
May we seek and find Him more today, than ever before. May we touch His Wounds and never doubt again. May He step through our walls, our locked doors; may we experience His Passion in new ways, in our roads to ‘Emmaus‘;
oh that same power that raised Jesus the Christ from the dead, be our Dew and Manna today.
Images from yesterday’s news refused to leave but this morning a tree full of thumb- sized black birds, white chested (what are they?) they greet with rowdy song… what are they saying?
Last week we saw a family of Peacock. I thought it was a whacky dream….
….glistening blue preening in the few meters between our home and Gulmohar trees….. all lounging around like that? Was too much to take a close pic but brief video below.
Can say with some confidence- we’re all a little more than numb; even beautiful things take time to process. My heads jumbling …..
startled by visuals in a world gasping with disbelief at its single cruel global event. Along with unavoidable casualties, will geographic justice prevail?
Yet these Beauties arrive: random signs of a Normal still here, after centuries of war & peace- while one is still gagging over lakhs of us hurting in ways we shouldn’t.
Last night our son wasn’t too calm: aggression surfaces its head with random punctuality…
this morning he comes to where I am with my empty diary. Joh, 19, used to be the gentlest creature…. but the past 2 years were a dark valley. Now he reaches for my hair, and starts playing… his fingers gentle gentle….I remember an old song Ma and Dad used to sing ….He touched me… it feels selfish to be this Touched, not just in my skin by suddenly gentle-d son, which is a miracle in itself, but deep within raggedy heart, mine;
haunting images of migrant workers scrambling for a way back home to their villages follow me as I turn away from those tiny black birds I’ve not noticed before in trees we never planted… all yelling a song I wish I understood. My thoughts scramble ….
as our Govt. does it’s best, please let everyone stay in, help each other stay in, not go helter -skelter, not arrange a public meet like a very irresponsible group just did in lue capital city endangering an entire nation/earth.
Joh’s fingers now so gentle in my skin, what can I say. Words halt…
He Touched me….
when I was just starting out in life, 25…. newly married, a spinal defect that had been developing suddenly worsened. Spinal cortisone injections (a 2 year nightmare) only helped short term.
One day a stranger prayed for me, and in 24 hours I was totally healed. This isn’t easy to talk about because few would believe but I’ll never forget that fire in my bones and the touch of healing. Who Touched me….?
I never forget that day, and today after our 19 year old touched my heart like that, like an angel…in a time when hands must stay 2 meters away, and distancing is a new kind of love…. yes we are getting Touch- hungry and will look for Soul – Touches more than we guess now.
It is April already, the sky is a startling blue, yes I am startled by life;
am persuaded to believe against all odds that today will be nothing like yesterday, no matter the news. Woke up today feeling numb, but there were these chirpy tiny white chest- black birds outside; how must I stay negative? (As I wrapped this post, we saw Peacock again, this time a lone one…distancing? Kitsy our daughter yelled ‘Penguin!!!!’ How isnt that funny? She was mad at me for laughing that hard).
It’s a strange time, an unusual life: the whole world on the same page. It is harsh and unreal, and yet any little/ large blessing looks/is larger than life.
Outside white cottony clouds go busily away. April feels beautiful in my Indian window: it is getting warm, gold light filling green leaves. I want to cry but the colours are too many. Want to pray but there are no words. Joh’s fingers still gentle in my temples: I treasure, store them away along with little black- musical- yelling birds & other kinder action.
by what held us all these years: I’m touched, by the power within us that is greater than fear,
touched by how new leaf and bud appear, relentless of germs & sickness, they pout at my quick disbelief of personal endurance,
Touched, where I am rinsed by storms of cleansing…. I believe you and I and us are more than these days,
dumb founded by my own capacity to be afraid, I’m touched by the power of prayer, gratitude & praise:
This morning it went on and on in my head: the astounding fact, the act of prayer…. its healing ways, no matter how we used to think it didnt work, this morning It touched me, like a Glove, a Mask…. It held us in the secret place of Its hiding, not just me and mine, but you and yours: locked doors, sealed yards, borders, nations, hearts and minds….
May we wash our spirits, with the cleansing power of leaning on the most High. Man is wired to lean, on meds and safety measures: and that’s a sign a good one too…that by ourselves we are not enough. Together with the Leanable-On, we are stronger.
Choose Stronger, dear one, we aren’t alone. There is a Power beyond this,
I was touched by It this morning. Grace, Strength...call it a big word, let’s be touched by the One thing that can save us: The Hands of God that made us and flowers new every morning, I send you these, as Reminders,
Here there is no one else, here there are no words, none but Yours- falling in my ears, like a Prayer :
I have never heard You pray before, I have never heard You pray over me: Words that breathe life over my ash. This I could not have believed, that God would pray o’er a broken spirit, an outcaste, a one no one sees….
but You pray over me, and I do not know the Words, it is the syllable of a Heart whispering in mine, it is the rush of a Stillness,
We meet Mangula* in a little town outside Bangalore….where exactly is she from? Half Kannada, Telugu, Tamil…she doesn’t know. How many people groups are we in this busy Peninsula India? At least 70, I hear .
I get permission to tell her story, take her picture. Mangula is thrilled, unashamed, why should she be? She’s done nothing wrong, only given good in return for the trouble she’s received. A feisty, 64ish (maybe), you never know, she could be much older or younger:
M. is General dishwasher at the home here where we’ve been these past 10 days;
…is also garden lizard/ squirrel Chaser, Chef, Masseur. (Ahm, snake killer too if the occasion so arises). Will sing along with any song you are singing, in monotonous hum. Origin? Hard to say. Telangana, Kannadiga... she speaks a marinated form of sub languages, but her story is beyond my head. (Retold with permission). Maybe I should just call her Mingu….?
Has two surviving children:
one of whom is her daughter Aasha who died young after a life of abuse from a man outside her community. The runaway marriage ended in him asking Aasha to go to the city looking for a ‘well paying job.’….which was a round of hotels and nightlife that left Aasha with a HIV+ baby girl. Husband now gets himself a new wife, while also occasionally thrashing some pocket money out of mum-in-law Mingu. And I mean thrashing. Ming’s daughter Aasha didn’t live beyond that monsoon when she fell seriously ill….
Mingu tells me this as she carefully pours eucalyptus oil in my shoulder blades last evening; the massage is welcome. She has the fingers of God for achy sinews. Her speech can get coloured with words for the bad men in her life, for her husband who brought home another wife, and Mingu had to leave with her then infant. Recently the old man died and she had to ‘pay her respects’ ... in a 3 day ceremony, with 2 other ex wives. The 3 widows dressed as brides were given a turmeric bath, (wore red glass bangles that were systematically broken), then a river bath in which she near got drowned, following which she caught a lung full of cold….
She pauses mid-eucalyptus massage, I’m feeling so much better for the treatment but cannot understand how she gets through the day…
her silence is heavy, is she crying? M’s skin is like hardened leather, the voice soft with cares. There’s a grand daughter, Simi…..
every month Mingu gets tablets for the girl Simi, from a Centre 30 kms away on a bus that costs her Rs 300/- to and fro. Simi is 16, tall, with dark knowing eyes and a mouth that can spin tales, fight like a cat- you know she’s had it rough. Step mom hates her….
…grand daughter here is a wild one, looks 25. Long story-
last month she got married to an 18 ish year old from nearby village, and he swears to love her to his dying day. His ‘awful Mawho demands a dowry‘ doesn’t know about the Simi’s HIV+ ness. He works in a factory, has a Cycle and ‘Quarters’ to live in.
Ming is pleased at her grand-son-in-laws’ ways. He now has a small house near a local church, with music all day coming in through their window.
It is a treat to listen to the woman, her tears and soft rage, her gratitude to a God she hasn’t seen, and her zest for life.
Last night as we watched Romedy Now.…it went to midnight, Mingu in a head scarf; we hugged/wished each other Happy Valentine’s as families do. Ming grinned with all her white teeth, she hadn’t a clue what/ who Val was/is…..
and I’m a little guilty at being so smug in even saying/ wondering what Ming thought of the word, Love. How could I translate the word ‘Beloved‘ to her; ‘Love’ was, is only what others gave her, give her.
This is another post I’m unsure how to finish, or why I titled it the way I did. Women like this one, they might live a life thick with details they can’t really say, but they have my respect.
The lyrics of a song done with my lefty guitar (will upload when theres courage to do that:). Words run off me and I can’t think except watch how healing walks in. No evidence, it crawls in a millimeter at a time. Then two steps back. Yes I’m a dreamer but positivity alone has never helped med.side effects, see? And I’m seeing new light in the dark. Seeing hope against odds. Our son is on a new surge of withdrawal, the seizures stopped months ago, but this. As my fam and I watch each other cope, moods swing then settle. We must plan activity to zap his nervous energy. He’s been the sweetest calmest person here these 18 years, so this is hard. Jeff read this out to me just now,”He who dwells in the shelter of the most High will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty.“
I’m asking, so His Shadow goes where angels ‘d fear to tread, right. His shadow chases hell for us, It treads fire and walks stormy water to get to us, His Shadow would, Who, What else could? This isn’t a blog post for the sake of blogpost. I am grateful for that Shadow that lead me to some extraordinary readings today, rooting me back into security, ignoring my doubts, my fiery disbelief.
My Jeff (Noel – no one else would put up with my messy paint tubes and books in corners and centre stage of my life), when he listens to music it’s like he’s breathing it in via ear phones. I’ve not seen someone savour music the way he does; it’s his profession (Sound) yet him soaking it in with palms clasped over headphones makes me realize the gift of music is to be unwrapped, opened to senses and inhaled into spirit… the Balm of Gilead!
(they’re at a carol a day: drummer boy, 3 kings, God resting merry gentle…)
where they get their joy is something to watch; it’s been a month of us battling med induced aggression with our son, I’ve written my nails blue on this one but that’s not the story here. Gratitude spills out my ears that mid all this there can be music? Maybe because its December, maybe it’s that time God’s letting in a new season. This time around I wasn’t able to think on a carol, then the kids do what they do in season and out. Music’s been a norm, a hard habit to break. It’s now a best friend. A gift from God, unwrapped over and over. Jeff gets his headphones out, his brown eyes swim out at me for joy, what else can describe this… comfort,hope,healing….
ay weeping may endure a night but joy comes in the morning.
Thankyou God that trusting You isn’t a myth, You’re not a long ago Shepherd with Psalmist sheep in tow, You’re not stuck in Time- wrapped in swaddling diapers, You’re not even embalmed on iron crosses for us to kiss when we can’t pray. You’re here.
I don’t know when healing will arrive for sure, but this is a greater miracle that Peace can trek thru’ storms with us. It’s a miracle that our son pushing through momentary random aggression can even smile and pause to sing.
Jeff is a warrior. I go climbing walls when am anxious; sure I pray but I turn into a praying spider woman. He’s the calm lake of Galilee thankyou Lord Precious Jesus.
Thank You for people in our lives who have ears to hear Your Music, Your Voice mid all others’. Thank You that Christmas is more than a Season of Decor & Shine. Thank You that though it’s a long trek through Valley of the Shadow of Doubt we need fear no evil, You’re there.
No alarm bell, no burst of glory. It tiptoed in ‘neath my gate. It wouldn’t hold my hand, It couldn’t. I was cold cold cold, every leaf in my garden shrivelled, ashed; Ivy & dust layered the ground and walls of my address.
When Healing came It bled into me. It Crossed boundaries I had built. It broke Itself like Bread over my hunger and poured Itself out like Water over my drought. New metaphors crowd my space. This had been desert with no oasis. Now, this Healing-
growing me into things I do not want to recognize:
a Garden of Shadows where a Lone One prays. Prays as if for me. What’s this. He breaks on two planks where He hangs, I hate this like a personal wound. I’m screaming words with no decibel: He’s saying it for me. Two words, three- I will never forget. “IT IS FINISHED.” He said, smiling stars in His eyes as if we were in Paradise being made over again.
wait. He takes my buried memoirs of habits of pain.
But I can’t have them back, He says. Healing takes it all away. I’m blinded by an emotion with no name, Its a Light falling careful in my blind eyes. It grabs my poison ivy with new strong Vine: It inhales me, slamming my dying dead inside, don’t ask how. I have no Theory, no Words wise or pretty. All I know, when Healing came to me I was dead blind, now I see:
I see Scars, Its Body broken. Healing has scars, you get this? I don’t and maybe never will, not till we go Face to Face past that proverbial Glass darkly in the way. Now I peer through Reason, Logic, Theories, Rule. Oneday when we have crossed our rules, we will see the host of things that see us now. Oneday we will break through gravity bound toes: on that day we will see what we question these days. Oh when Healing came It broke Its news gentle to me. It knew I’d be suspicious,afraid,disbelieving…
When Healing walked into me, It spoke things I believed I couldn’t know…..
that gain came in via loss, true I knew, but what else could a human fight for? We needed this. This War for Survival was our one socially acceptable behaviour; it united man and woman and child and nations and bazaars and gangsters and priests, it fed global talks and need. If I didn’t do Survival what tell aunty Maya I was doing ? Or Pastor Sahil. Or neighbour Bishhy. Or Karu Harben my brilliant corporate cousin. What tell Didi Grey my mentor..or art collaborators… that I didn’t care anymore how I’m being received;
who could I be, what of my ‘me‘?
When Healing came It talked into me – sacred syllables of the Father Son and Holy spirit, groans not uttered by the carnal 5 senses: we are heart and mind and spirit soul, beyond flesh and sensor. I had territory within that must heal first*, my Healer said, it began in the acres acres acres (deep in my core where we live or die, there we heal, there we host our virus, our sickle cells, our warrants of life, our predictions of peace. If we die there, how could we survive in the peripheries?) ..
Healing took me to an impossibly narrow dizzy path. When I began to heal- one tiny step at a time, It unleashed me to run my feet like a deer’s in cliff edge sheer mountain. Fear rose bitter gall in my throat and I killed it like a beast is killed with bare hands: something I’d tried an entire lifetime, now it happened with one rapid wish;
here was this desire to thank every mean thing that had ever come my way, hey yes those nasties I’d crumpled over? Them. They were my helpmate, they now proved my brick and mortar needed to build foundation of this impossible route. “Forgive. Go on higher,” The Healer pled with eyes of deathless Love, and the Light of that gaze scorched my last defense, over and over like with birth pangs. How could I have known this detail if I hadn’t needed healing ?
Why haven’t You been here earlier- how much went in wasteland of my nothing. My Healer replied as if I had spoken, He said,”You are more than all this. In these deserts more Gardens could grow, if you go. “
Say what, why? There’s more folk like me, why would I care, but now I did.
When Healing came to me It rained and Its Tear whetted my thirst for Its fact. I used to think with Healing I would be strong again to return to old strengths, I’d be a pillar of fortune, a wheel of Change. Oh look- see how nice healing is, but that is not Its way. It told me things I couldn’t know.
When Healing began I leaned my core on Its Strength. No more great burden of goodness to bear! I was still a torn leaf garden but with new shoot- as if I had wing, the Healer said,”Never mind your Self. Rise..”
When Healing came It did not give me wings, that’d have scared us all.
It is much more than we show and tell, it’s in the way grass grows o’er and o’er and wise men die and babies born will oneday grow to know more than you or I confess. When Healing can, It will come to you and the Light you see will be outside of our incapacities, then perhaps you too will say to another, “…how else could I have known…?*”
Inspired by our son(& little brother Joh) as he heals.
The first time I really thought about Christmas, was when there was this rather large wooden cross snuck somewhere around a manger scene. It was at a low roofed chapel on a hill, I must’ve been 7 years old. The hill had white wild lilies growing all around nodding at the winds. It was a chilly morning that Christmas, the sun was thin gold spilling in through stained glass window with red blue and amber leaf and Shepherd. I remember staring at everything and wondering why He would love me or even know me by name, why would God be born in a stable in hay and everything, and why would He even want to die for thousands and billions of humans who didn’t care anyway?
That manger-cradle will forever remind me of the Cross, its like they are one vivid prop in the centre stage of my life. The Cross was mine, the Stable mine, I the inn keeper, I the jury, oh and I, Barabbas.
it’s all too much to take in, too much. The beauty of This season grabs me with the fact that it was/is all for us, in exactly the way it happened.
That entire route from Cradle to Cross spills with parables and true life events that birthed whole new generations of rewired humans. It gave seed to new/renewed hearts and lives, like gardens we have grown from the wounds of the Cross.
I can scarcely take it all in, the Love, Tolerance, the sacrifice of Love, Forgiveness,Reconciliation, and Hope that refuses to give up on the chase for Peace. I love this season with all my yesterdays and todays and tomorrows. Every wound is His, every piece of our life story woven in His magnificent weave spanning every generation of Us.
Nothing is lost, nothing missing, nothing broken, Shalom! Look carefully,