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lumena [Apr. 5th, 2008|01:25 am]

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  He created everything there is; nothing exists that he did not make.  Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.  ~John 1:1-5

caffeine traces
glowing faces

For once you were darkness, but now, in the Lord, you are light!  Live as children of the light, for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true...Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.  For... everything exposed by the light becomes visible, and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.  That is why it is said: Sleeper, awake, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you! ~Ephesians 5:8-14

world crying in despair.disease.poverty.pain
when will you come again?

 in India, we celebrate Diwali, Festival of Lights.  little oil lamps appear in windows or line the streets, and blinding firecrackers explode through the night sky.  hope and happiness fill the air...though millions of people are still living in poverty, pain, and despair.  we need the light.  we search for the light.  we grasp it when we find it, but then it's gone again... just what is this light we're searching for?
 in Ecuador, when a mother is expecting a baby, people start asking, "Cuando va a llegar la luz?" = when will the light arrive???  that is the same question we ask about our world today, as all around us real people are hit by personal tragedies or caught up in community and even nationwide disasters.  we wonder if this darkness can ever be overcome; we long for the light.  and we find the answer, our hope, in the one who was born as a little baby in Bethlehem, 
who grew up and started a revolution of the heart, 
whose words and ways were absolutely brilliant
who was killed by the Romans' tortuous art,
who broke forever the darkness of death,
who is alive today!  alleluia!!!

Arise, shine, for your light has come!  ~Isaiah 60:1

He said, "I am the light of the world."  ~John 8:12

into the mess
in the muddle of stress
into war and disaster and darkness
you come to bless
to remove our blindness
to pour out peace, joy, and kindness
our wounds to heal
our purpose to reveal
and lead us to live in lightness

"illuminate the way back home; we all need your light"





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explicacion de las lagrimas [Mar. 11th, 2008|08:57 pm]
[music |aradhna still spinning its satsang beauty]

[just a little explanation and expansion on my previous post] 

so, the other night one of my eyes really did just suddenly start streaming tears for no reason, for like 5 minutes straight, and i felt up the other eye and it was completely dry.  this is such a weird experience. it's never happened before in my life, but within the past month it's happened twice.  blessedly not in public.  so then it sparked this series of thoughts about the double life i lead simultaneously in so many aspects--though i really can't separate out the times i experience one or the other of these things.  they're all tangled together and flowing into each other throughout each day, when i'm aware enough.  and i'm grateful, too, because i firmly (not rigidly; there's a difference) believe that real growth of the spiritual fruit of joy is not possible without corresponding depth of sorrow.  it is nourishing soil for the soul and bread for the body--i even seem to thrive on less sleep when i am genuinely sad or grieving about something!  that or my body eventually forces me to shut down and take unusually long naps at unusual times of day...either way, my body seems to find remarkable sources of refueling when i choose to enter into the experience of sorrow and brokenness.  the Lord is close to the brokenhearted, says the Psalmist...and not just ambiguously near us or floating around us, but actually with us, among us, one of us when we are hurting.  and by following a path that leads us through times of suffering, we actually are treading in Jesus' footsteps and becoming more like him in our hearts and in our capacity for deep love and joy.

you know those people who have trusted you with their tears, who you can cry with and not feel condemned or patronized but genuinely cared-for, and how the times of laughter with them become so much more precious, so much more raucous and celebratory, because of the times you've sat at their side by the gushing stream of your eye-water-works or theirs, and the times you've added to the resevoir together.  well, that's how all of life can be!  each valley leading to a mountain, each ocean of ouch leading to the shore of reassurance and the dry land of comfort.  and sometimes both together, i don't know how, but sometimes just walking along the sidewalk looking at the cloudy sky or the crimson sunset i can have the simultaneous sensation that i'm flying high with happiness as well as punched in the gut with grief.  that's the 'soaring joy' and 'jugular sorrow'.  because there are so damn many reasons for both, always at the tip of the tongue of my mind's self-talk.  i know you've got yours, too.

thank God for tears.  intrapersonally cleansing, interpersonally bonding...and i don't say this to justify any over-tendency of mine, because i actually am not so great at either sharing or even shedding my tears very often at all.  that's probably why every so often my body has to just make up a reason to squeeze some out, and sometimes it goes on for days when every few minutes i blink and there is a fair amount of hot liquid just begging to be let out from behind my eyes and dribbled down my cheek or dried in the hollow of my eye socket.  but usually it involves both eyes, not just one wet one dry.  so i thought that a little strange, and thought i'd take a little closer look at what are some of those things that may seem to be mutually exclusive or complete opposites, but really are intricately.intimately connected, like you really can't have one without the other.  or even when you are in the moment of the beautiful.good.true thing, there are always lingering darknesses.pains.lies, if not immediately within yourself then within someone else, probably a nearer 'someone' than you think, and always in the state of the world around us.  wow, i've learned so much just in trying to express this, and yet i have so much still to learn.

looking forward to the day
when all our tears will be wiped away...
but for now my dear treasure they will stay.
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sing.grita [Mar. 10th, 2008|12:35 am]
[music |aradhna.satsang...lovely milieu of sitar.guitar.tabla.y voces dulces]

 one eye cry, other eye dry, why? 


seem to live at two extremes simultaneously
this soaring joy
this jugular sorrow

wanting to grieve for everyone else's pain and the groaning growing pangs of the wide world
wanting to get to the bottom of the hurts and doubts and hopes and dreams buried deep inside of me myself y yo

sing sweetly ["gaao gaao re ambar dharti/gaao gaao re, gaao mere sang" = sing oh sky, sing oh earth, sing with me]
gritar gratingly [stubborn, stupid silence shouts louder than scores of spoken 'shut-up's--why does my mind shut down on me]

trying to find the right answers
trying to ask the right questions

prepare and plan for the future, in the present
remember and refresh the present with memories of the past 

determined to do my best in the tasks set before me
dubious about whether i want to do anything at all 

loving people and the energy of community and conversation
loving solitude and the energy of individual inner intimations and reflective writing

realizing and enjoying my strengths and beautiful characteristics of my body, mind, and spirit
recognizing, accepting and surrendering my weaknesses and accumulated dirt on my soul

and again i say, constantly
this soaring joy
this jugular sorrow

and i wouldn't have it any other way.
i wouldn't have it any other way.
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shaking in my skin [Jan. 22nd, 2008|03:53 am]
[music |gunshots echo in my head, and a jumble of voices speaking urgently and earnestly]

 kahlil gibran wrote "joy and sorrow are inseparable, together they come, and when one sits alone with you, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed"

well, today, they both came and jumped on top of me in the bed, and just kept bouncing and jouncing until only a semblance of my sanity is left, and only shreds of rest in my sleeplessness.  but i do believe the joy is winning, ever so slightly.  it is...Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which has become one of my favorite days of the year since i came to college, because we always have such challenging speakers in chapel, such beautifully diverse people contributing to the worship offering with music and dance, and such eye-opening workshops and other events.  and because ever since i came back to the U.S. for college, having grown up mostly either overseas or in a tiny rural Midwestern town, i've known that i don't know much, not enough anyway, about the history and reality of racial relations in this country.  so i love this day for helping me understand more and more of what the minority ethnic groups have gone through and are still going through, and of what is essential to being an agent of God's peace and reconciliation across cultures and colors. 

what a blessing to sit under the teaching of Efrem Smith, to be enlightened about Dr. King's and 1 John in the Bible's dream of the 'Beloved Community'; to be exposed for the sinner i really am and we all are; to be surprised and energized by his closing analogy of being Superman instead of Batman, Wonderwoman instead of Batgirl...maybe i'll expand on what he said later, but i'm too tired right now so i'll just reference the university's website, www.taylor.edu, where video or audio recordings of all chapel sessions are posted.

one panel session on interracial marriages, which model a lot of amazing principles for any kind of cross-cultural relationship, even more special to me because i personally know one of the couples on the panel quite closely, and love them dearly.  other lecture session on the unique, rich and deep theologies of racial reconciliation found in three main minority traditions: African American, Asian, and Hispanic.  amazing to hear the differences and similarities, and to see my own face and many of my fiercely held spiritual values flowing from the Asian theological perspective emphasizing the family of God, as well as the fiery passion that always gets stirred up in me when i hear about Liberation theology from Latin America, and to be able to nod my head yes, amen, that's so right, to the African American emphasis on oneness, on unity of the Church.  further research needs to be done now, into the Native American and Arab American perspectives, and probably others, too.

final event: the documentary Shake Hands with the Devil, based on General Romeo Dallaire's book recording the Rwandan genocide, which he experienced as head of U.N. peacekeeping operations there while the worst was going on, while nobody in the world would help.  makes me so ANGRY, but at the same time guilty and grieving and grateful it's over...but not for him it's not, he gets to re-live those vivid memories every day of his life...and still so many people in Rwanda live in poverty and fear, and now there is genocide going on in Sudan, and what are we doing???  well as for me at the moment, all i've got is:

"...these seconds when i'm shaking, leave me shuddering for days, and oh Lord, i'm not ready for this sort of thing" (from 'anna begins', by counting crows)

but You make us ready, You empower us to be.  the Beloved.  and the loving community.  transformed by the tussles with joy and sorrow, refined by fire, forgiven and forgiving and faithful and trusting in Your peace and love.

so shake me up and make me ever more Yours.

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heavy heavy [Nov. 24th, 2007|03:49 pm]
[mood |h.e.a.v.y.]
[music |regina spektor...begin to hope???]

heavy heart like a sky-scape of rain clouds
heavy with thunder and biting gray water condensation waves

heavy vertical rivers threatening to
heave through
heavy veils insisting on holding mis ojos cautivos

heavy mistakes mean i stagger under dumpster-loads of work
heavy with wrecks and stinking litter of wasted time

heavy piles of lists of
heaps of hunks of
heavy pieces of dented-armor intentions need to be hurled across the junkyard just DO the
heavy duties, forget the
heavy feelings, how?  it's my fault of course but he'll never know, never
hear my song of how
heavy heavy heavy, u-r. love is

heaven=>no more tears, no more reasons to add to the resevoir, thank you Lord lay your
heavy hand to turn my eyes to your love-light-ness, to listen to your
healing words of life instead of my broken bruised burdened burning blaming blackening

head-hand-heart bridge under construction.
hope coming soon.
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change of life-plans [Nov. 2nd, 2007|12:53 pm]
[music |the miseducation of lauryn hill]

so i am no longer a music education major.

i am a plain music major, which knocks out the student teaching semester which i was not so thrilled about anyway, allows me to graduate with my own class and complete my minor in TESOL (teaching english to speakers of other languages) plus take a couple of social work classes, because what i really would like to do is get my MSW (masters in social work).  because that's where my heart is, in the relationships, in the communities, with the messed-up people and places, not in standing in front of a classroom and trying to get them to make and understand music.  it doesn't rule out teaching by any means, but it does mean that i won't have a formal license, even though i've taken almost every required education course.  mostly it means that i get to shift towards studying some of the things i am actually passionate about and actually might want to do for life.  on paper, this looks like only a slight change of coursework, but it makes all the difference in lining up with who i am, who i want to be, and what i want to do, and in freeing me up to be creative and adventurous in how i plan to serve God in the world.

SO excited.  i catch myself thinking, why the heck couldn't i have made this change sooner, why didn't i realize the solution was that simple?  but no, as i see things falling into place with my schedule, my possible summer plans, and as i speak with friends and profs, i have to recognize that God pulled off some pretty impeccable timing here. 

from the moment i made the decision firmly in my mind one week ago, to all the little extra free times my new advisor has been able to talk with me; to the visit of a sweet argentina-MK big-sister-mentor of mine who graduated a few years ago with a sociology degree and is waiting for word from the peace corps as to her assignment; to the positive answers i've been getting from each academic office and the registrar about fulfilling my slightly-changed gen. ed. requirements; to the just-in-time setting-up of an appointment with my minor advisor and the gracious use of my roommate's car to get across town to keep that appointment; to the three minutes i was able to park at the upland park and swing in a swing and sing to myself a joyful song in swahili so i wouldn't pull up to her house too early; to the decision to sleep on a friend's couch instead of going back to my room late one night which turned out to be some of the best sleep i have had in a while; to the cancellation of a night class which allowed me time to bake banana bread and prepare my thoughts to share at an informal worship service this morning; to the incredible lunch date i had with a wise china-MK big-sister-mentor who happens to be a social work major today and the phone call and impromptu tea and chat this evening...aiyah, this change has come at such a perfect time.

always holding my plans with open hands...God keep me flexible and trusting and loving and leaving things in YOUR hands, your timing.   

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my surroundings [Sep. 22nd, 2007|03:55 pm]
[mood |energetic peace]
[music |australian band singing soul-renewing redemption songs]

brazilian coffee steaming next to me on the desk

georgian cross hanging gently around my neck

ecuadorian t-shirt covering my upper-body fat

bahamian girl gonna meet me later to chat

australian psalm-singing band spinning soothingly in my CD player

indian chicken curry and channa masala i'm making tonight for the ethnic fair

thai[landian?  haha] food night next week with

sri lankan girl and

austrian missionary girl

korean chorus of 'i could sing of your love forever' makes me joyfully twirl

...every once in a while i just need a review of a bunch of the undeserved blessings of diversity that my life is deliciously drenched in

actually i could use this kind of exercise much more often than i actually do it.  i should be way more thankful, because this little list is only the barest beginning of the things i can be grateful for

God's hand has kept me calm and steady through all the craziness of this semester so far...his aching heart has kept me tender to the cries of the needy, however they appear: as friends here who need an ear to hear their concerns and joys or arms to hug them close or hands to join them in prayer; or as the students, staff, and principal at my school in India who are struggling with a lack of solid, faithful leadership; or as the stories of occupation and oppression and water shortage in Palestine, of earthquakes in Indonesia, of religious persecution in China and India and Afghanistan, of atrocities in Iraq and Sudan, of accidental deaths of members of the church family I was part of in Ecuador...and his joy like a fountain has overflowed in my soul over the past couple of days just reminding myself that he is in control of the world, in control of my future, in control of forever and everything, and that i can come to him constantly to be renewed in that confidence...my God is a rock in a weary land, shelter in a time of storm

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thirst-quenching treats for the sagging spirit [Jul. 12th, 2007|12:29 am]
[mood |been in a nourishing few days]
[music |international love song..."you know a perfect love is a world without hunger..."]

invasion of house by a number of Taylor alumni from a few years ago who have lived in Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Spain, Bolivia, Nepal, Kenya, and more amazing places.
late-night meals cooked and eaten in collaboration with crowd of people.
cooperative clean-up of kitchen.
instant connections with total strangers.
shared craving for Indian food resulting in decision to make meal of it next evening.
dance in living room with a Ugandan girl and an Arab girl and a tambourine and two maracas.
listening to music from South Africa, Brazil, Australia, Arabia, and more in living room.
confidently driving scenic cornfield-full route through rural Indiana to buy supplies for Indian meal.
hot hot kitchen.
working in hot kitchen with an incredible Sri Lankan girl, a sweet American girl who is interested in India, and an American girl who grew up in Vienna, Austria.
winging it from online recipes and complete guesses.
stinging eyes from onions.
coughing bursts induced by combination of frying onions, green chillies, and ground cumin.
getting hotter.  and hotter.  and later.  and later.
finally: butter chicken curry...yellow rice...dhal...channa masala...garlic-butter-toasted tortilla quarters...raitha...chilli-powder-dusted cashews...
eating with my fingers!
playing a mix of all Indian and Arabic music on my computer.

nearly-midnight snacks of me-made banana bread with drizzles of chocolate sauce baked in.
rain dances.
running and twirling and singing and going barefoot down street in torrential rain.
stars visible through clear patches in the clouds while rain continuously falls.
smell of rain and heat rising from pavement.
wishing i didn't need subtitles to watch Water...but knowing i will see it sometime, sometime soon.
Living Water...knowing that someday i will never be thirsty again.
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independence day rant [Jul. 4th, 2007|11:24 am]
[mood |cynical, trying to surrender]
[music |my chorale singing Hope for Resolution...]

i don't know if i can handle all the patriotic mess of red-white-blue and god bless america slogans when 1. i just miss India and its orange-white-green, and 2. there are so many people in the world being denied their freedom by this very country that prides itself on that concept.  i have a FRIEND traveling in Palestine/israel, and we have BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST whose home is that land, yet the U.S. persists in perpetuating violence and practical apartheid there.  thinking of all the people enslaved to other people's greed, whether in factories in Indonesia or fields in South America or brothels in Bangkok...i just cannot be okay with the opinion of some people that the U.S. can do no wrong, or that this country knows what is best for the world, or that we should even be asking God to bless what 'our troops' or 'our economy' are doing when so much of it is disgusting to him, an insult to his love of peace and justice and yes, courage, to speak up for those who can't speak up for themselves, to care for the poor and the widows and the children...oh the children.


[that stands for my unventable frustration at how limited my understanding is, how lacking my ability to act for change is, how low my spirits insist on sinking on this day when everyone around is going to be soaring high on the fumes of borderline nationalism]

i will need to be ever more dependent on my Lord, the king of the kingdom of my eternal citizenship, the father of my heavenly motherland, my constantly challenging counselor as well as comforting companion, the Prince of Peace, to make me a channel of his truth, his peace, his love today and every day.

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transforming words on the way [Jul. 4th, 2007|11:22 am]

well, i have now been back in the states for a little over a week, and it's the fourth of july, and all i want is to be back there, back home, in india.  not indiana.  india.

but books are a pretty good transporter, a good balm for homesickness, so let's see, what have i been reading...

la Biblia es la primera cosa. been reading a lot of Psalms 89-91, Psalms 121 and onwards (the psalms of ascent o los canticos de los peregrinos), Isaiah 43, Ruth, Ezekiel 37, and just now i read Galatians 5:1, 13-15. freedom. love. fruits of the Spirit.

at the moment i have just finished The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. it's not finished with me yet, though. it is the growing-up story of an Afghani boy and his complicated family secrets, as well as a chronicle of the growing pains of his country and his people as immigrants to the U.S. and refugees in their own homeland.

others that gripped me on the trip:

The God Between by Lyn Brakeman. it is a collection of stories written in Jewish midrash storytelling style, which means taking a story from scripture and meditating into it, holding it up to the light of the message God is speaking into your life from it, and creating a narrative that goes beyond the actual words and events and character sketches of the Biblical account but remains true to the spirit and personalities conveyed by the Biblical writers. her stories are all on the topic of different kinds of relationships: mother/son, mother/daughter, husband/wife, group of women, two men, woman/eunuch. i read this on the way to India from the U.S.

Up the Ghat by Zai Whitaker. it is a thin little novellette i have been yearning to read for years because, first of all, it is written by an ESL teacher at my school in Kodai, whose ex-husband has been on National Geographic specials for his work with snakes in the Palani Hills. second of all, it is a narrative based very closely on my hometown, the hill station of Kodaikanal. a number of years ago, probably right around the time i was born, there were some bonded laborers from Sri Lanka being held by a landowner out in the hills, having to live in horrific inhumane conditions, and this book details the struggle of one honest regional official to obtain freedom and justice for them, through the eyes of his wife, who is an almost-adulterous struggling writer.

Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen. may we all have the courage to be part of God's work of bringing about justice in the world.

Water by Bapsi Siddhwa. it is the English novel version of a Hindi movie inspired by the practice of child marriage which is too often followed by child widowhood. widows are traditionally thought of as unclean and unworthy, so often they are cast out of their husband's home with cruel ceremony, not allowed back to their own home, and are forced either to wander streets bald and begging, or to find a widow's home where they scrape out a living one way or another. sometimes the older widows make a business out of prostituting the young, pretty widows. this is tragic but true.

The Message of Mahatma Gandhi in his own words edited by U.S. Mohan Rao. too much to say about this one. he truly deserves the title 'great one'; i closely identify with many of his transformative spiritual experiences; i wish fervently to put into practice the principles of ahimsa, nonviolence and truth. his ideas about that reminded me of a sermon i heard last summer preached by Bishop Malkhaz from the Republic of Georgia, where he introduced to us the word "truthing", truth as a verb, not just 'speaking the truth in love' but doing it, thinking it, being the truth acted upon in love. i hope that someday i may have the courage to use the soul-force of satyagraha to make peace happen where it is needed.

Come Thirsty by Max Lucado. very convicting and refreshing devotional.

Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas. it is a collection of hilarious and insightful stories of an Iranian girl's family and French husband, of her memories from childhood, adolescence, and emerging adulthood.

Dr. Ida: Passing on the Torch of Life by Dorothy Clarke Wilson. it is the biography of Dr. Ida Scudder, a third-generation medical missionary to India, who almost singlehandedly, calling on the power of God and the resources of family and friends and strangers, revolutionized the system, the availability, and the quality of health care in India. she is one of those 'never say never' stories, who fought God for a long time before surrendering to his will for her to become a doctor and return to her childhood home. once trained and there, she started out with free clinics in her house, which turned into a medical center, and then built a hospital, trained many Indian women in nursing and medicine, and eventually established a medical college where my great-grandfather was the third principal and my grandpa was a professor and doctor.  today, that hospital is one of the top hospitals in South Asia, serving over 1000 inpatients and 3000 outpatients each day, many of them for little or no fee. i literally cried my way through this book because even though i never knew this woman, she has influenced the course of my life deeply.

Mayada: Daughter of Iraq by Jean Sasson. it is a brutally shocking biography of a woman who was once a member of one of the most revered families in Iraq, a gifted journalist in her own right, and even met Saddam Hussein on a number of occasions, but was eventually thrown into one of his prisons by the secret police and tortured on a false charge, crammed with 21 other women in one cell who were also sent there on completely false charges of conspiracy against Saddam. all were horrifically tortured, barely fed, and kept in extremely dirty conditions. i read this on the way to the U.S. from India.

ahora, de nuevo en la Biblia: 2 Kings 5:1-14, where Naaman is healed of leprosy after washing seven times in the Jordan river. at first he questions the prophet Elisha's command, but then complies. oh how we resist God's simple whispers of advice...oh how often God heals us anyway. here's the prayer from Alive Now magazine for this week:

God of healing and creativity, lead me to the waters of your grace so that I can reach out in love to others. Amen

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