Category Archives: An autobiography

Post 206. Piece by Painful Piece

Standard

I collected all the important looking pieces and swept the flakes into the bin.  I scratched around and found one tiny tube of Super Glue ( terrifying stuff)  and started to separate the pieces of the three bowls.

IMG_6151

I started from the bottom and worked upwards.   The base.  The foundation.  Where it all started.  Fix that and the other pieces should fit perfectly.   Easier said than done.

IMG_6150

When I was panicking that I was going to be Super Glued to a Cyprian bowl for the rest of my life.

The panic of feeling I was going to be attached to a Cyprian bowl for the rest of my life and my nails being glued to my fingertips forever was real.

I glued together one piece at a time.  Until the last piece.  That darned last piece!  It had to be filed down with my favourite kitchen knife to fit in to the only gap left.

Perfectionists would say, “You should have thrown the pieces in the bin.”  Well, I am far from being a perfectionist and these bowls are important to me.  I’m glad I took the time (the best part of a whole morning) and effort to put them together again.  No, they aren’t in the Fujisuzukikama (?)  league with gold paint filling in the cracks but they are back to being MY bowls.  (I have considered filling the cracks with gold glitter glue to make them look valuable but that may make them look cheap. Just sticking to down-to-earth real).

Ok, so… back to relationships.  Are they worth fixing or not?  If they can be fixed, why not?  Should we ignore the pain of the brokenness or should we face it full on and learn from what happened?  What happens if we try our best to fix things and we draw a blank?  What if I want to fix it and the other would prefer to discard it?

I make the call.  I call out my bravery and courage to face the truth of what happened.  No matter how painful, I need to do it if I want to grow.  I need to learn how to speak the truth lovingly and to hear it with humility and a heart that wants to learn.  When words gets angry,  I try to hear if there’s any truth in them. Just get to the truth.  It sets us free, but hurts like hell in the process.

Yes, I can overlook an offence.   Yes, I can forgive and try to forget but it’s easier when I know exactly what I am forgiving and what exactly I am needing to forget.  If I am living in Cuckoo Land only knowing what happened from my perspective, I am living in Cuckoo Land.  If I am asked the question, I will present only what I know.  If you don’t tell me how you saw things, how can I know?  I gave up trying to read minds a long time ago.

IMG_6154

So, yes, sometimes we can just, “Let it Go.”  But we can also talk.  We can have a deep, loving, truthful conversation doing our best to fix whatever is broken.  If we are mature and wise, we won’t add pain to the pain.  If it’s important to us, we will make the effort.  We will build up, encourage, put our relationship together, piece by piece even if it takes a lifetime.

My bowls didn’t just fly off the shelf.  I did that.  I take full responsibility.  Gone are the days when I blamed the pavement for my fall. (“Naughty pavement!”)  There was no Cat in the Hat to pick up the mess I made.  I had to do it all myself.

IMG_6156

The bowls are fixed.  They will never hold water,  but instead of looking pretty on my shelf, they are now homes for my baby cacti.   No extra drainage needed.  Pretty,  but no longer perfect.

There are cracks and small pieces and flakes missing, but in the words of my mother, “No-one is going to stop a galloping horse to look for those.”

Everyone I know carries brokenness.  We are fragile but we are free.  Free to fix things or to pretend nothing has been broken.

If it’s important to us we will pick up the pieces, piece by painful piece.

(I love seeing little daisies or greenery pushing out from cracks in a road or stone wall.  How robust.  How determined.  How courageous.)

 

 

 

Advertisements

Post 205. Fixing things (Part 1)

Standard

I’m generally not the clumsy one in our family.  I leave that title to they know who.  I like to fix broken things.  Especially relationships.  Broken ones.  It’s really hard for me to rest until I know I have done everything in my power to make things right.  It’s really important to me.

In the past couple of days, I have been communicating with a friend who is very important to me.  Trying to fix things.  Again.  Not that they keep getting broken, but they weren’t ever really fixed.  At least from my perspective.  Even after so many conversations and tearful moments.  I was sent an article about “Overlooking Offences.”  It was an excellent article and there were some good reminders which I took note of.  I slept on it and wrote this in reply.  “Some things can be overlooked but other things can be talked about.  People have flown across oceans to make things right with people they really care about.”   Talking may be more exhausting and for a while, things may seem like they’ve gone even further downhill; but isn’t that better than just pushing stuff in and down and pretending that everything is ok?

If we have questions, we need to be able to ask them.  No limits.  If those questions aren’t answered to our satisfaction, we need to have the freedom to ask them again; with no fear of rolling eyeballs and huge “Seriously?” sighs.  I’m not talking about being deliberately annoying, but in a mature and reconciliatory way.  Aiming at healing and deeper relationships.   I agree, sometimes we can just “get over”  things, but at other times, it is really helpful to talk things through.

I had this thought too.  If my questions aren’t answered and I’m not ok with that, it leaves me with a sense of emptiness.  It’s not as if I live in that place, but  every now and again something will trigger it off and I feel the pain again.  Maybe it’s like being an adopted child; so grateful for their beautiful adoptive parents, but empty with the unanswered question, “What happened?”  Most go after the answers and for a while, the pain is cutting.  They may even have more questions,  but at least they know what happened and they can move on.

When there is a misunderstanding or fall out, we can go one of two ways.  Ignore it and move on and away from the relationship, or do whatever we can to fix it.  If it still can’t be fixed, at least we’ll know we’ve done everything in our power to fix what is broken.

This requires bravery.  Courage.  Vulnerability.  The ability to face the truth about myself and own what I have contributed to the chaos.

Fixing things.

Piece by piece.

So, this morning I opened our curtains a little too enthusiastically and knocked down three beautiful bowls given to me by my friend Cathy from Cyprus.   They aren’t costly but really important to me.  When I saw the bits of pottery all over the floor, I was tempted to sweep them all into the bin and forget I ever owned them.  But then I thought of the letter I had just sent to my friend and I made a decision to fix them.  Deliberately.  Carefully.  Piece by piece.

I’m so glad I did.

Part 2 coming up 🙂

 

Post 204. Hit on the back of my head with an empty nest.

Standard

I am about to turn 59 and an empty nest has just hit me on the back of my head.

I miss my kids.

I miss their shiny eyes. Perfectly shaped noses. Beautiful mouths. Their cheek bones. Their thick handfuls of colourful hair. Their soft ear lobes. Their slender talented hands and their funny feet. I have examined them all. Memorised forever.

I miss my kids.

I miss them lying on my bed. Long chats. I miss hearing their voices and watching their facial expressions. The smiles and lightness of new things. A proposal. An invention. Something created in the early hours of the morning. A song. A poem. A wire thing. A drawing. An epiphany. A new idea.

I miss my kids.

I miss their frowns of confusion, the tears of brokenness and regret. Voices raised and hard questions asked. Challenging my core. Shaking my bones. Rattling my cage. Questioning the very ground I stand upon. Tissues strewn and pillows suffocated.   Faces buried in my mattress. Holding each other’s trembling marrow. Trying to understand.

I miss my kids.

I miss their nonsense. Dancing wildly in the kitchen and any other available space. Singing. Non-stop singing. Plucking strings. Non-stop string plucking. Relentless chatter and creativity. Wrestling. Leaps of faith into each other’s bodies. Undoubtedly trusting the strong wall of love and commitment. Fortresses. Never failing fortresses.

I miss my kids.

I miss seeing them staring into my fridge. Looking into my cupboards. Walking into my bathroom. Borrowing my stuff.   Messing up my house. Hundreds of bodies around my dining table. Food everywhere. The little red over-worked espresso machine. Coffee cups piled up on the kitchen sink. Butter chicken and a cloth filled with chapattis. Paper napkins. Water fights.

I miss my kids.

I miss kissing their eyelids and the corners of their mouths. I miss folding up their ears. I miss clapping each other’s hands as we walk along the road.   I miss hearing them harmonising. I miss road trips. Car music. Kids on the car roof screaming their lungs out into the mountains. Yak milk coffee. Memories galore.

I miss my kids.

Spread out to kingdom come. Out of my reach. Too far away to hold. Their blurred faces on my screen. The deep parts of their eyes, invisible. Losing track of the built up lines of age, stress and anxiety. My band-aids are small and a kiss has lost its power. The heart wounds are beyond me. So many miles between us.

I miss my kids.

Bonded for life. Joined at the hip. Insanely loved. Etched into my memory- from birth. Day one. Every part. Crooked teeth. Larger than life ears. A brown tooth. So perfect to me. Every millimetre loved by me.

QOWJ5730

I miss my kids.

Post 203. The Basement 2003

Standard

2003: So, we had found a beautiful apartment for our family and a community hang out flat for weekly  meetings but we still needed a place for the whole community.

IMG-2094

Fixing up The Basement

After months of viewing some awful places, we found a big basement in E-14,  Kailash Colony.  It was a mess but we could see the potential. We got in there and fixed it up with fans, lights, toilets, a kitchen and lots of plugs. We painted the wall blue and it was arty and colourful. Josh did some graffiti on it to liven it up. It was then that we started our Friday Night Coffee Bars.

 

CCC (Capital City Church) was full of musicians and creative people.  The Ugandans kept it noisy and lively.   Duke, Mark, Ronnie, Alan and Barbara came with their incredible stories of life in Africa.

IMG-2100 (1)

Those who were locked into one genre were stretched.   We were every genre.  An American group taught us Four-Square dancing, someone else taught us couple dances,  all kinds of people took to the stage whenever they wanted to.  Originals flowed and we were amazed at the incredible giftedness of the young people in our lives.

Our power supply was a challenge and we needed a generator.  Someone suggested we have a “Mad Hatters” night to raise some funds.  The hats were crazy! They were too good to keep in the basement so we went into Kailash Colony market to show them off.  We invited people to come back for coffee and quite a few followed us.  Some kept coming week after week. The hats were auctioned and we made over Rs 30,000!  Most of it came from the visitors who had come off the street.  It was an amazing night.

 

Then there were Bingo nights, movie nights, table tennis, darts, carom, UNO, Scrabble and Open Mic nights.  They were all big hits and Friday Night Coffee Bar was the place to be.

IMG-2099

When someone had a birthday they would bring a cake or sweet meats to celebrate themselves.  The worship times were celebratory and many encountered the love of Jesus and His community.  There were those who loved us before they loved Jesus.  They were part of the community and attended everything for years before crossing over.  We never pressurised them or tried to convert them.  We loved them and they loved us, then they loved Jesus.

Peace sign

We learnt the importance of having fun.  Lots of it.  To be unreligious and down-to-earth.  To love unconditionally, all who walked through those doors.  To build a culture of honouring all people from all backgrounds and cultures.  To bless the community through great entertainment and a good, clean environment.  To give strangers a place to rest their weary heads after a long week of intensity in the capital.

Zoe, Sharon and Ash

Zoe, Sharon and Ash

While we were underground, we were very visible.  Hundreds of people walked into “The Basement”.   There was always someone to sit and chat to and of course, always Vinod’s famous coffee* to enjoy.

*Even “coffee snobs” loved Vinod’s steamed milky coffee.  We never let on it was BRU; the cheapest coffee/chicory available.

 

Post 202. The Threat of War

Standard

In June 2002,  the US embassy put out an advisory for all foreigners to leave India. Pakistan was threatening to drop a nuclear bomb on Delhi.

The thought of leaving our community was horrible.  “Not even an option!”  Tony made some calls to our relatives who advised otherwise.  They felt it would be irresponsible of us to not think about our children.

We made some emergency plans which in retrospect were quite silly ones.  If a bomb was dropped, there was no way on earth we were going to be able to drive our car from Delhi to Mussoorie.  We couldn’t even drive to our local market on a normal day without getting stuck in a traffic jam.  The panicky pictures we painted in our minds and to each other were all horrendous and futile, bordering on comical.

We lay awake wondering:  If we left the country, when would we ever get back?  What would happen to our Delhi community?  How could we abandon our family?  Could we take them all with us?  What about our kids?  They were our priority.  We were torn.

The threat came and went and came and went..  and with it our fear.  Love for the community grew.  Were we going to run away like hirelings? No.  We were shepherds. Our kids were our first sheep and we never wanted to put them in danger.   We were also in love with the “community sheep” who would have been harassed and helpless without a shepherd.

The test was real.  Would we run away at the first sign of trouble?  Would we pack up our things, head for a safe, foreign land and leave behind those who had no option but to stay?

One night as we lay in the dark, peace descended on us.  We decided we would only go if the Indian Government demanded it ( and even then, we wondered how we could camouflage ourselves without looking too much like Peter Sellers in The Party 🙂

The kids each got a new backpack with a few emergency items, which they kept on their beds.  Within a couple of days, the snacks had been eaten during midnight feasts and the bags were used for storing things.

“They” say, “Most of what we fear never happens.”  I have found this to be very true.   Fear can be paralysingly real.  It has the power to control.  It has the power to stop us dead in our tracks.  It disturbs our peace and limits our ability to experience freedom and love.  It affects our destiny.

We decided, after much turmoil and stress, to grab fear by the throat and hold it against the wall.  When we looked it in the eye, we were surprised at it’s timidity.

It’s fear.

PS.

See more of my posts on fear.  Yes, I’ve had issues 🙂

Post 168 and Post 169

 

 

 

 

 

Post 201. Floccinaucinihilipilification

Standard

Floccinaucinihilipilification:

Why Rajkumari?

I had seen thousands of homeless, desperate women dressed in smelly rags

So often in a worse state than Looli

Is it because they all had their hands out and Looli didn’t?

They demanded everything and anything as if it was their right

But Looli demanded and expected nothing

Her only demand was to be left alone and to have peace

Is that what made me go after her?

There was a nothing-ness about her

We could gain nothing from her and she wanted nothing from us.

It was there that the two arrows met

She found love and so did we

All selfishness left

We lived only to see her safe and at peace

Away from danger and evil people.

Suddenly our lives and entertainment seemed shallow and unimportant

Nothing was more important than to see improvement in her

Signs of hope, a new smile, to hear a clear word from her

Sad, stiff mouth.

O God! How many more like Looli?

I want to know but I don’t want to know

I want to see but I don’t want to see

At all! At all!

To see would demand total unselfishness

A total surrender of our whole family.

If we want to see justice done

It would mean spending our lives on behalf of the poor

So, don’t show us everyone Lord,

Just show us OUR Loolis.

The ones you want US to love

The ones you will work it out for.

And thanks for loving me in my state of nothingness,

Just as you love Princess Looli.

PS.

The loveliest, longest word in the dictionary was taught to me by my dad when I was 8:  I mastered it when I was 9.  More than the challenge of the word itself, I was fascinated that such a long word could mean nothing…

Flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication: Definition:  The action or habit of estimating something as worthless.  A state of nothingness.

 

Post 200. Loving Looli

Standard
IMG_1206

Looli and Lata

The year 2002.

After an amazing holiday in Goa, we arrived back to Sarangan’s New Year’s Eve party in G.K. 2,  Delhi.

Towards the end of the evening a few of us were on the balcony overlooking the park. Creeping around in the shadows was a young woman who was very disturbed.   Lata and I went down to talk to her but she “ran” away.  She had a bad limp and it seemed she was paralysed on one side. She kept looking back as we kept calling her. When Lata spoke to her in Hindi and mentioned “Prabhu Yeshu” she came towards us with a big smile. We took her up to the party and the smile stayed on her face as she gobbled down lots of food.  Her name was Looli.

She talked with a slur but we could understand what she was saying. She had lived alone in the park for five years. The residents believed she was insane and violent so they left her alone. It seemed she was happy for them to believe that.  She told us how her family had beaten her and that she was too scared to go home.  It seemed they didn’t understand why she wouldn’t co-operate and being un-educated,  started to beat her to get her to obey them. She embarrassed them. They beat and broke her feet so she couldn’t run away.  She was also burnt with “beedies” (small brown local cigarettes) and cut with knives.

She was filthy dirty and smelled of 5 years of grime and Delhi dust. Her hair was full of lice. Her teeth were yellow and there were bloodstains on her grubby kurta. She was homeless and was more than happy to come home with us.

Lata got her into our washroom and gave her a good scrubbing. We could hear them laughing and chatting the whole time.   With her permission I shaved off her lovely curls so we could get to the bottom of the lice-infestation. She looked so pretty when her teeth were clean and shiny.

We kept her with us for a few days and she was such a pleasure. She was a bit mentally challenged but definitely not stupid. She was bright and loved music. She had learnt the lines, “We will, We will rock you!” from one of the houses around the park and she would slurringly sing it when she was bathing or when we gave her a guitar to “play.”  We gave her little jobs to do and found that she was a perfectionist. Sweeping was her favourite thing and she would automatically clear the table after meals. It was fascinating to watch her.  Lata developed a good relationship with her and they talked for hours at night about her life and Prabhu Yeshu.  Her HIV and TB tests were all clear.

We knew we couldn’t keep her with us forever.  We tried to put her in a place of safety but she only lasted a few days. She was too hard to handle.  When we found out where her family lived, Arun and Tony went to see them.   They told them to treat her well and give her work to do to keep her busy.  They also threatened to tell the police if the abuse continued.  They got the message. It was hard to leave her there, but it was our only option.  All we could do was check up on her every now and again and pray that she would be ok.

Her nickname was “Looli” (Handicapped).   Her birth name was Rajkumari (Princess).

Amazing how much humans can mess humans up.

PS.

Last year (2016) I was driving around G.K. 2 and who should I see on the opposite side of the road, but Looli! I recognised her by her limp and flapping arms. I called to her and I was surprised she knew who I was. I crossed the road and we hugged. She looked so good. She had put on some weight and her clothes were clean. She told me she was with her family and that she was fine.  I had often wondered.