I am a spiritual person. Growing up in the Bible Belt in southern Illinois, I didn’t realize what an impact my upbringing had on my beliefs until I was an adult. I remember living in Morrison, Illinois when I was about 5 years old…going to that big red brick church right downtown on the square (population maybe 200 people) and singing into a recorder the only song I knew. I’ve got the Peace that Passeth Under Standing Down in My Heart. But I thought the words were: I’ve got a Pizza Patsa Thunder..whatever that meant.
My spirituality is still with me. As I got older I took the knowledge and exposure from my childhood and made my own decisions. I don’t adhere to the very strict tenants of some religions, but I do know that spirituality is important for my existence. For my centering…for my love of life and compassion of others.
I meditate/pray on a regular basis. It makes a difference in my life.
I learned about meditating when I was in India-living in an Ashram-hiking 2 miles to an orphanage where we volunteered with the children. An extraordinary experience for me. A learning time, a growth time. That’s when I learned about meditation. And that’s when I learned about the power of restful prayer and meditation and the effect it has on forgiveness, quality of life and centering.
Here’s a segment from my book about meeting women in India. I traveled on my own to a women’s political rally. I was lost…they found me. We didn’t speak the same language, but it didn’t matter. We’re a sisterhood. Our stories are singular…our passions are shared. I hope you have a sec to read it.
A Simple Language
It was the last day of my trip to India. The events of the past two weeks were now mine for the reflection and contemplation and sharing.
As I ate breakfast at my hotel in New Delhi, I was looking forward to an unplanned day in these last hours of a world so different than my own. Saturday, yesterday, marked International Women’s Day throughout the world. I think it is curious that it came and went with little if any mention in the United States. Yet here, in this city, this country that I believe many Americans think of us as much less advanced than us, the celebration of women was everywhere.
As I was moving my food carefully around on my plate trying to get clues of which will explode as a mini fiery volcanic inside my mouth and which would be the safer, more palatable for a person who dislikes spicy foods like myself, a story came across the New Delhi morning news: Rally today at Kissan Square in honor of Women’s Day and the Congress Party President Sonia Ghandi. I was thrilled. This is perfect, I thought. An opportunity to see Indian women in action at a political rally for the Congress Party and hear Sonia Ghandi speak. I could not finish the Indian porridge and my cup of Masala tea fast enough.
Map pointing, scribbled notes in English and the grace of the Indian people who eagerly and respectfully tried to understand my English and I their Hindi, paid off as I arrived at the entrance to the Kissan area and the location of the rally. As I stood in the entrance line and went through security, it became clear to me that this was definitely a local event. The papers later reported an attendance of 60,000 people. I am certain, at least almost certain, that I was one of possibly 20 Americans in attendance. And I say that just to keep me honest because I really did not lay eyes on even one single one.
As I dropped into the crowd and became part of the momentum, I passed a group of women. Hoping for an English speaking one, I asked if I was indeed in the correct place to hear Sonia speak. The women, who I later learned to have the beautiful names of Suman, Serita and Anita were not English speaking however, one of them understood enough to know that I was by myself and looking for direction.
Immediately these lovely women, these sisters over 8,000 miles away from my American home took me in as their own. It was as if to say: we know she is alone, we know she speaks no Hindi, we know she is one of our sisters. I became the lost American woman in a strange land. Actually, I WAS the lost American woman in a strange land.
The languages were different but the message was the same. We communicated without words but rather through our commonalities as women. They took me by the hand, introduced me to their families, had their picture taken with me and me with them. They offered me food, drink, friendship. These women explained to me the passion they have for Sonia, their Congress Party leader. The love they have for their children and the pride they take in telling me that one child has her MBA, another’s child is a police officer in Delhi, and on. When I admired a scarf or a hat, they offered to share it with me. They asked me to come to their homes for tea.
And when it was time for me to go, they took me by the hand and walked me to the exit. I had become their charge. I became their friend. We exchanged addresses, phone numbers and even one email address. They made me promise to write to them and I will. They will each get a letter from America. I hope they will find a way to read it. I hope they will write back to me.
I did not hear Sonia Ghandi speak that day. My driver was waiting and we had a pre-determined time to meet. But no matter as I heard from perhaps even better representatives of India’s women. With no Hindi classes, no English sentence structure, and worlds miles apart, I took away an even more important message that day. The message of alliance with women across the world. That is what I hold close to my own “woman-owned” heart.