Sunday, March 30, 2008

do not grow weary in doing good

yesterday i was asked more than 15 times to give. 15 times in maybe 4 hours...i was worn out and ready to say no. it's hard to choose to "see" that many people, look into their eyes and say yes, okay here's a little something. i stopped wanting to give after about number 5, i felt a little attacked and vulnerable. on my way home, the words "do not grow weary in doing good" came to mind. i felt the weariness and wonder how i could keep this up if i was asked 15 times everyday instead of the usual 2 or 3. i wonder how jesus felt, or even feels, being asked a thousand, million times a day for this or that...i sure he wants to know our needs, wants to respond. he did respond on earth to both the person and the need, what is so overwhelming for me may have just been the natural response of the savior. still have alot to process about yesterday, and what days like it mean for my life.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

love your enemies

i think experiment is becoming more natural for me and i can see how practicing open hands, open heart leads to actually having at least more openness than before. but also how it can be so terribly painful. I had the strange and sad opportunity to meet the long term "babu" of one of our ladies last week. He is an austrailian man in his forties and he has been visiting one of the SB ladies since she was 14. i was full of loathing as i thought about meeting him but it was important to this lady that i do i went to her house for tea. i felt like i sat down at the table in the presence of my enemy. I felt like he represented all that i hate about what men do to women who work in the trade. he was superior and justified his actions without me saying a word. mind you i did not say much, i was polite and kind and treated with him respect more for my friends sake than his. i wanted to yell and accuse. to demand explanation for his relationship with my friend, his use of her, his choice to continue to seek out other very young girls to sleep with in the red light area....but i felt the need to be silent, to be kind, to remember in the presence of my enemy that i am called to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute. i sense my presence and the presence of jesus that came with me was enough for him to feel all the condemnation that he must keep at bay, because it poured out with my saying anything, the guilt, the justification, the proud proclamation of what he believes. my silence i think was a grace for both of us...because instead of not so righteous anger, i was just so sad for this man. so sad for my friend and the lives of parrell pain and suffering that we inflict on each other. i felt sick with the sadness for my friend and twistedness of one of the most consistent relationships in her life is a man to who she can barely communicate and who openly sleeps with her and her neighbors. having an open heart, is painful, to let everyone in, to let them take a piece, even my enemies...jesus laid down his life not just for the righteous but for his enemies from that day to this....this is a beautiful profoundly painful sacrifice. i do not think i could lay down my life for that man, it was hard enough to hold my tongue. what a terrible, terrible tragedy that i so rarely comprehend this profound gift of grace, of undeserved forgiveness. may we all grow in grace and the knowledge of jesus...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

seeing with different eyes

i treasure good frienships. I am guess most people do. Being more or less on my own for the last ten days i have relearned a few things about myself. I really do need to space and rest. when i have space and rest, i can give out and share life a whole lot better. that was my experience in omaha. i lived alone but that made my times with people more full, more enjoyable. i like being alone a bit but i really enjoying hosting people, caring for them, being hospitable too. i have had a couple of guests this week and the alone time has made those times feel more full, more special. i hung out with a friend on friday night and it was good just to talk and be. i think i realize that i continue to give out of a space of emptiness rather than fullness because i am never really alone and it does take me awhile when i do get those moments to relax. having extended time alone has helped me relax. i am wondering if i can find the space tod live this out on regular basis. i think finding my own place will help. maybe i could be relaxed and ready to share my life more readily. i want to treasure people better. treasure time with friends. not be compelled in a 1000 have to's but live in the 10 i would love to's. i have so so much to learn.

march 14,15,16: my experiment is still going and i am still very much working out how important it is to be prepared. thats really the thing i think. being prepared to give, making my heart ready to give and maybe not just to those who ask of me but everyone else. today ezekial 47 was the passage for sermon and the river that came out of the temple...i love that passage. the smallness of stream becoming a river that can not be crossed and the fruit and health that comes of the small things that God starts. in His will things will move beyond our control but good things still come (he does not need us to be in control)because thats his plan. the beggars of calcutta are teaching me to see the small things again. the things that first called me to this city...jesus reflected in the poorest of the poor. those who cry out in desperation for someone to see them, feed them, clothe them, set them free from the daily darkness. i have not had perfect responses, i think i have even in this process had sinful responses to giving ie. pride or selfishness. but slowly my eyes are being reopened and my heart is being softened again. i am starting to see again. working in the red light area, i often close myself off to the other feels like too much. but i can see that God has given me a grace to live in this place and piece of his heart for all the people of calcutta from the rich to the desperately poor. i can practice his love in keeping my hands open, by being prepared with open hands to meet all the beautiful people that God loves so desperately. i can remember Isaiah 58, remember the call that first brought me here and promises for those who live the fast. i can see again anna kumari my old friend who i meet this week after many years and i can give to her freely without worrying. i can be sad that she is only 15 and already married and still on the street begging. i can be sad that so little changes and heart broken that poverty is an unstoppable force of destruction in the lives of those who live it. i can be sad that every person i have met on the street in the last several days is a broken picture of God's image in humanity and that there are so few working to restore. i can also rejoice because the kingdom is come, the kingdom is coming and the kingdom will come in kolkata!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

silence and solidarity

so i have lost my voice again, the second time in about 3 months, seriously...maybe my times of morning contemplation are not enough, maybe God is telling me to shut up for the rest of the day too!! i got lots of good lectures today about gargling with hot water and ginger and other various home remedies. i think i must be a freak because i went about my day as normal and everyone was surprised when i could not speak. actually, trying to talk on the phone was hilarious, basically impossible with all the backround noise. i just had to hang up a couple of times....

we have been cleaning sari bari this week. it is looking quite beautiful and clean. the bags are finally making progress. upendra is amazing. gita is amazing and has stayed with me the couple of days so i would not be lonely with kristin and beth in nepal. we will be finished with all the SB legal details by the end of april. yeah!!

i am looking for a flat (small apt.). i have been considering living on my own for awhile now and feel like i am finally making progress(this after months of asking around) . I have seen one good could be better so i am going to hold out just a bit and then tonight i talked with a broker who reminded me of an indian elvis, i think it was the hair and hip swivel. anyway, he said within two weeks he would find me a place...we'll see what that means. looking for a place to live here is an ominous project. everyone overcharges because we are foriegners and they ask for outrageous deposits , which they also charge indians. i am not sure how anyone can afford to live here, i guess thats why so many don't actually have homes...i think 50 percent of the city population is still consider homeless because they live in slums or on the street. if the deposit, reflects about 25 percent of my income for the year how the heck does someone who makes a 1/3 of what i do handle such a thing. mind boggling!! solidarity takes on whole new meaning when considering these things.

this apartment search makes my open handedness seem small. what is 25 cents when i will have to invest 25 percent of my annual income in a deposit?

march 12, 13: normal calcutta days, full of sari bari life and not much else. I gave to the ladies i pass everyday on the way to sari bari. they had given up asking because i never gave. so i decide to give without being asked...just a little tea for everyone. today they all said thank you and smiled.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Being prepared goes a really long way on multiple levels.

March 10: Totally unprepared today. i was in Sari Bari mode. i had to run a few errands and left without money and found my self hounded and feeling selfish and a bit frustrated and at being a bit dehumanized but also at myself for not being prepared. the experience hardened my heart a bit which caused me to look away once or twice during the rest of the day. when i have nothing but 500 rupee notes what do i do? give the 500 rupees? makes me wonder if i am truly being generous because what i have given up to this point has not really cost me anything but some time in slowing down to see the people asking for my help.

March 11: prepared today...made a difference. was in new market for a bit so had multiple giving opps. still wondering how generous i need to be when giving to everyone who asks...when most only expect a ruppee or two. gave one lady 10 rupees, more than usual but still does not cost me anything but a few seconds to Pull out the bill and look the woman in the eye.

on a another note, i started Weight watchers. another example where being prepared is really important. i have to plan the day before what i will eat or it will not work. so much effort to be prepared all the time. working toward my goal of 35 by 35!

being prepared is a discipline. faithfulness to a person, a project or idea does not just happen. it takes discipline, practice. i always seem to forget that faithfulness is not so much a passive thing...rather it seems to be one of the most active of the mind games i play. practicing faithfulness for one more day...trying anyway. we will see what happens today!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

8 rupees

March 8: i think i have been of the mind set in the last year that i will not give unless i hear a from God otherwise. and i think the last week has lead me to see that there are errors in this thinking. right now i am ready to give to anyone who asks...i am wondering if the better perspective is being ready to give unless i hear that i should not. many only ask for a rupee or two...the elderly lady by the metro with her hand out, the man at the corner of hazra road, the older man by upendra's all for 8 rupees. they did not ask for more...this is how they make their or two rupees at a time.

a softer open heart just might be easier to maintain that the hard heart. i am finding it easer to give and i am finding myself prepared to give, my heart ready with compassion. when i am ready to give to anyone who asks, strangely i am finding that i might really be seeing people better because i am not closing myself to their needs before i am even really speak to them.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Today and yesterday

Today was a holiday. And yesterday i was at Sari Bari all day. No opportunities to hold my hand open to those one the streets. However, I did have a few unique opportunities to use my skills(they are strange and varied to be sure). I mediated a conflict at Sari Bari between two ladies. They gossip sometimes and hurt each many women in one place is always a bit sparky! I must say i am loving upendra...he is so amazing! i love dreaming with him about Sari Bari. i loved talking with upendra yesterday about opening a bank account...he was so excited! I rested today because it was a holiday and helped a friend figure out how to start a business of her own for the ladies. i sat on the floor and processed life with beth before she left for nepal (hope you are enjoying the treasure of nepal bethie!)I spring cleaned my room halfway, the rest maybe will happen on saturday. i tried to bid on an ipod but i am bad at it because in my world i will get one for 25USD when they are selling for 150USD. it can't hurt to keep trying. I had to fight to pay the right price for an auto and ended up in an auto with the sweetest guy thankful for those calcutta redemptive moments. I loved coming home from coffee today in an was a scene full of life and energy. everyone is out because it is warming sitting on their haunches playing cards, drinking tea, avoiding their wives, women out shopping, people selling veggies,chickens and towels, men holding their kids, business men in dirty autos looking funny because they look so professional and out of place scrunched into an auto with 5 other guys. it was the kolkata i love....full of life, full of people, the kind of day where i can almost forget that i don't quite fit, still i think i belong.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

more on the experiment...

March 3: walking by the river, a woman in the slums by the tracks waves us over. biscuits for all the kids she biscuits it is, 12 packs (1 dollar). And 5 rups to the man who could not walk. hard to take in all the need everywhere. still seems like the neediest might be those who do not have the power to ask...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Heart Experiment

Blessed are the poor...for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I am doing a little heart experiment. prompted by last weeks experience with the little boy. I am going to give to everyone who asks of me. I am going to give them money, tea, time, and food. And i will not say no. I am going to do this for a month and see if my hard heart cracks up a bit. I am going to do a daily update whenever i encounter someone to i should extend my hand.

1 March: Today is the first day. I avoid all places with beggars.

2 March: Park street. i never give on park street. begging is a profession. but today i gave not much just a little. i almost did not give. this has become my first response. i gave to the kids and the old ladies who always ask. i was afraid of giving because they always ask for more. they did today but it did not matter.

3 March: taking a taxi, the woman and the baby, she did not look into my eyes. not once, only extended her hand. i felt her shame, her brokeness. her lost humanity, my privledge punches me in the gut.

4 march: a new day. god gave me matthew 5 for today. new eyes to live the day...

3 "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 "You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 "You're blessed when you're content with just who you are— no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

6 "You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
7 "You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.
8 "You're blessed when you get your inside world— your mind and heart— put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 "You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
10 "You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.
11 "Not only that— count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable.
12 You can be glad when that happens— give a cheer, even!— for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
13 "Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
14 "Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.
15 If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand.
16 Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand— shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

keep looking for jesus today. i am...