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