You caught me unaware

I’d given up 

On ever receiving

The understanding 

of your grace.

And now its come

what was there all along

but only know I know it

Acceptance . . . the fight as gone out

it has no reason for being

All I had to do was see

to feel your grace

to know you are

all that has been said of you.

Thank you in leading

me down the road 

to know you are God

and Man both

Jesus Christ

my savior

Newness and strength of belief

Christmas is an infinitely precious time for me. In the past it made me so want to believe in Jesus Christ.  This year I have the quiet glow that comes from finally believing. It was a long held prayer that seemed eternally elusive.  In one weekend and ongoing reading of Luke, I came to understand the historical reality of both Son of Man and Son of God. 

I know that for many belief is a fervently ecstatic state, joyous, free, and uncontained. They want to shout out their vision from the rooftops. But it doesn’t surprise me this is a more subtle faith. I’ve spent so much time jaundiced, I need time to recover, to accept and feel it flowing through me. 

But the power of the Bible is undeniable. I am seeing the words as if for the first time.  I still don’t  believe the Creation story replaces Evolution.  To much archeological evidence flies in the face of the story.  But a little part of me also understands that throughout the world cultures and tribal societies have their own creation myths and there is a striking similarity between them. 

Still, I’ve come a long way in a short time.  It is still rather tremulous, no, it’s not. It is a real belief and understanding.  It’s just new and while a young belief it is not fragile. Yet going to spend the holidays with born again, steadfast Christians is threatening. I have a tendency when faced with strong preaching about anything to run the other way. So as much as I am thrilled to be staying with my family, I don’t want to contend with the Rhetoric. 

If only rhetoric could be separated from belief. I’ll find more solidity in the Bible.  I just need to give it time 

Boxes

Boxed in – no fancy ribbons

just cheap imitations

sold at the local dollar store

Boxes tighter

claustrophobic, choking,                                                                  

“for your own good” and yes

we are worried about liabilities

a danger to any who may pass you

and, of course, you yourself.

Meanwhile boxes are continuing

to slip one inside another – seamlessly

gasping for air, understanding

resolution . . .

Yes, yes, there are reasons

whether simple or profound

this brain is rattled, aching, worn . . .

but what of those wild women

who lived on the edge

defying societal norms –

smoked their cigars, wore pantaloons

conducted torrid affairs, never

afraid to break away, defying expectations

Could I be one of these?

ride a horse, a motorcycle, a jet

daring authorities to stop me

Yet, I’m a good little soldier

compliant, scared

angry at them, at me,

for maintaining the status code

gasping to breathe –

suffocating – these boxes

will surely kill me

which, I suppose, is

the tightest one of all.

Savior’s embrace

Still I look for the Savior

flashes of illumination flicker past

quicksilver blurs

rapidly becoming dim memories

elusive  awakenings

drifting into somnambulant musings

I can not sustain the light

the lure of darkness holds sway

Theoretical justifications for distance

rear up at choice moments

leading me away from acknowledgement

I sigh discouraged

for just once to uphold the truth

and let the light

wash over me

rising me up

from despair’s temptation

I long

for the Savior’s embrace

Sunitha Krishnan

“My biggest strength has been realizing that in this whole effort, I am not a savior, but just a facilitator.” – Sunitha Krishnan

That said, this woman has been facilitating since she was eight as a teacher to mentally challenged children.  At twelve she worked with the underprivileged children in schools.  Again at fifteen she made her mark working in low caste communities.  As retaliation for her efforts, she was gang-raped by a group of eight men.  Anger fueled her decision to obtain  a degree in social work and work bringing child and women victims of sex trafficking to freedom.  In the past 26 years she has brought more than 12,000 victims to a better life and a chance for a future.   

The largest anti-trafficking organization in the world, her prevention program, Prajwala, consists of three shelters.  The organization has five objectives:  prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration and advocacy.  Prajwala provides moral, financial, legal and social support for women and children entering the program.   For the children of prostituted women, 17 transition centers work to prevent thousands of these children from entering prostitution themselves.  Vocational programs give necessary skills to lead economically feasible lives outside prostitution.

Krishnan also drafts policy recommendations and works with the government in the fields of prevention and advocacy.  She is well aware that meaningful change can not take place without the support of government and NGOs. To date, seven states are following her policy recommendations.  Her influence has even spread to the United States where she has met with auditoriums full of students to discuss prevention and activism.

She has made well received films on the subject of prostitution and prevention.  Krishnan has had to sell her personal belongings to further her work.  Programs are not cheap and although she  takes no income from Prajwala, there are over 200 employees to pay as well as services and expenses.  Her livelihood is supported by her films and books.

Sunitha has been arrested and imprisoned for her activism.  She has been physically assaulted 14 times.  Death Threats are an ongoing concern. Her rickshaw was hit by a van yet she escaped serious injury.  She survived a poison attempt.  Acid was once flung at her.  These attempts have only strengthened her resolve.

Sunitha has received many awards including the Outstanding Woman Award in 2013 by the National Commission for Women, Padma Shri in the field of Social Work in 2016, Inagral Sri Sathya Sai Award for Human Excellence in 2016, Mother Theresa Award for Social Justice in 2014, and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice International Leadership Award given in New York in 2011.  Every year has brought a host of awards. 

Sunitha was born with the heart of an activist and the drive to do good in this world.  Her indomitable spirit has brought forth formidable results.  Out of spirit and trauma, the focus of her attention was honed in on the women and children of sexual exploitation.  She is indeed a vision of inspiration.

Independence

Being a Caregiver means slipping in and out of people’s lives. You have moments of impact in long days where you are sometimes seen as an intruder. A person in declining abilities often has a strong, independent spirit. I applaud. Even though it is often harder to take care of them, they are still embracing life. They don’t want to give up the reins. 

I’m caring for a 92 year old woman who gets up before I arrive to wash and dress beforehand. She wants to do things herself. She doesn’t always like it when I clean because it bothers her that she can’t do it herself. I have to respect her feelings even when I know there is much to be done that her family requests.  

Contrast that with a woman who is a love but is dependent. When I wash her, she doesn’t lift a finger to help. Her family further supports her dependence by insisting she not act on her own and video monitors her every move.  She had a stroke but needs to push herself more because she is loosing her physical abilities.  

Independence is a vital key to a rewarding life. It can sometimes get in the way of reasonable care but you have to respect a person that is fighting to retain a self of self.  

Tree of Life

When does it end?

The seemingly endless 

Wall of discontent with myself

Harboring paths of remorse

Distilling lines of hate

Into a bath of despair

At the end of my time

There are nothing but 

Memories cascading 

Muddled heaps strewn across

The floor of my mind

The tree of life stamped

Across my brow

Infinite accusations 

Of past lives

Concerning those who

Matter most to me

When will personal 

Forgiveness assuage me?

No one demands penance 

Except me

I look in the mirror

And the Tree of Life

Rustles back

Stamping me

With eternal damnation

Tres Dias

I had never heard of Tres Dias before signing up for this past weekend.  For me the weekend was to hopefully provide sustenance to my failing spiritual health.  I had been feeling spiritually and creatively bankrupt for some time.  The words of my new pastor lay fallow on my ears.  Her words don’t seem to speak to me and I felt guilty because I held a leadership position but felt so very unconnected.  

My Church was the one my father had preached at from the time I was in Fifth to Seventh grade in school.  I feel a tremendous amount of obligation and commitment to the church.  This is made so much harder as my spiritual needs have not been met since our last minister left for retirement.  I have readied myself to leave this church in spite of the wonderful people within it.  This brought on much guilt. For thos

Tres Dias awakened me to options and commitments I wouldn’t have dreamed of before.  For those who haven’t heard of it, Tres Dias is a movement and fellowship in Christian congregations.  With 54,000 members worldwide, it draws from Catholic and Protestant denominations alike.  The Community makes itself felt during the three days you are there and prepares you for a leadership role in the Church.  For me, coming from a depleted place, this was indeed a revelation.  It is nurturing, welcoming, and inclusive.

Now I feel charged again.  I can do both – continue work in my old church and look for a church that better meets my spiritual needs.  I don’t have to choose.  And I can continue to help my church grow as my obligations require.

Beginning Again

Her words wash over me

dampening shoulders

never drenching

I sit in hallowed pew

hearing not understanding

reading not comprehending

the words of the Lord

empty vessels

to my all encompassing need

I am rendered barren these days

bereft not forsaken

Where God treads

I need touch the ground

feel earth between toes

draw strength from hidden resources

feel the breath

of the Holy Spirit

flood my heart

distilling doubt into firmament

calming the troubled waters

of a flagging spirit . . . 

renewing, beginning

a time of new abundance

and belief in the Most High

Sindhutai Sapkal

Called the “Mother of Orphans”, Sindhutai is a formidable and loving force who has brought a stable, peaceful home environment to more than 1,442 orphaned and destitute children in the Indian State of Pune.  She continues to achieve these accomplishments through begging and giving talks to facilitate donations for her six home locations.

Born on November 14, 1948, much has been made of the fact that she was unwanted.  Her nickname, Chindhi, literally means “torn piece of cloth”.  Although an illiterate cowherd, her father, Abhimanji Sathe, shooed her out the door to attend school, against her mother’s wishes.  As the family lived in abject poverty, she used the leaves of a Bharadi tree to write on, with thorns as writing implements.   Her education ended after fourth grade when family problems and a marriage at 10, to a 30 year old man, necessitated it’s end.

Over the next decade, she gave birth to three male children.  But when she agitated for pay for the village women who collected cow dung from the fields to burn for fuel, her living situation changed.  Until then, a local strongman, in collusion with the forestry service, withheld all forms of payment.  Her work resulted in the granting of wages to these women.  The strongman, in revenge for her actions, convinced her husband to throw her out when she was overdue for the birth of her fourth child.  That night she gave birth to a girl in the cow shed.

Sindhutai separated the umbilical cord with a stone. Walking several miles to her house, she was again rejected with her mother telling her to beg at the rail station for food and shelter.  So began the next stage of Sindhutai’s life, relyng on the kindness of strangers to support herself and her daughter.  At first she sang as she begged but then she overcame her fears and started giving speeches and was so persuasive that her collections increased.

Over time  began noticing the many children who had nowhere to go.  Deducing they were orphans, Sindhutai took them under the mantle of her care, begging all the more to support her new charges.  At first she did it to make money, but then she realized her mission was to provide a home to all who needed it.  That mission has led to the establishment of six homes, with destitute, abandoned women coming for shelter and acting as housemothers.  In an effort at fairness, she turned her daughter over to the care of a Trust to not show favoritism to the orphans and destitute children.

As of the latest article found, she has adopted 1,442 children and has collected a large assortment of sons and daughters-in-law and grandchildren.  Many of her children went on to take profession positions – doctors, lawyers and administrators.  She still speaks to obtain funds, all of which she pours back into the shelter and care of children. In an act of irony, her husband returned to her, but she only accepted him as a child, she was done being anything other than a mother.  Sindhutai introduces him as her oldest child.

 

 

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