Monday, November 15, 2010

A Piece of My Puzzle

My blog posts have taken a slight hiatus but this is in no reflection due to anything here. In fact, it is quite the opposite. So much has happened, I can’t keep up! As I sit down to write, I’m amazed it’s the middle of November. Where has the month gone? As I take time to process my thoughts, I’m struck with the thought of how will this year affect the rest of my life. As life is becoming remarkably comfortable, I wonder how another 8 months will change who I am. I feel like I am just beginning to understand the culture and while I yearn to understand it more fully, I also wonder what I will bring back to the United States. Right now I’m trying to put the pieces together, digest what I am experiencing and identify places where the two cultures collide. As I think about this, my thoughts end in a jumble mess, trying to process experiences and relate them to realities in the United States.

During our last retreat (October 28-Oct 31,) we learned more extensively about the caste system and how it affects daily life. Jim, one of the other volunteers, articulates what we learned so well that I suggest looking at his blog for great detail. (Post from November 4th) Through these conversations I was most struck by the complexities of daily life issues. In the daily routine at Nicholson it is easy for me to surround myself with the simplicities of Indian life and enjoy the small things I never appreciated in our consumer and productivity driven society. In a way I feel like I have been removed from the harsh realities people face, as I am surrounded with children’s delight. However, after talking with people from lower castes (and actually people who are not even considered part of the caste system- because they are so ‘low’) the micro-aggressions people face a daily basis, reminds one that life isn’t simple. Our being, whether in North America or Asia, can change others miles away. We each face daily hard-ships, some harder than others but working together we can each do our part to make each day easier for others. As I am still connecting my thoughts to make clearer linkages, and understand what I will most take out of this year, I sit with one concrete thought our actions affect someone else.

In other news my crazy eye has flared up and I have gotten to experience the medical side of Indian life. Three weeks ago, I was sitting in morning chapel when my eye began bothering me- I took some ibuprofen hoping to beat the headache that I assumed was coming next. The pain remained and a couple days later I woke up as Cyclops with my right eye completely swollen. I knew exactly what it was from the pain and symptoms. Seeing as though its not horribly common and has been mis-diagnosed in the US, I was dreading the idea of going to the doctor here and trying to explain what was going on, especially when I knew the only way to correct the muscle inflammation was to take high dosages of steroids. It did take a couple tries to get the correct medicine and dosage, but the doctors were very patient and thorough as they worked with me.

The language barrier was difficult and frustrating at points but through grace and learning to accept others’ help, I am on the way to recovery. I must admit it was difficult, to ask for help. However, through this experience I learned to advocate for myself, standing-up for myself to receive the help I needed. I hated the fact that others went out of their way to help me- but this taught me a lesson. In order to give, you must be able to receive. Furthermore, I was reminded that this year is not all about what I can offer the people here, but rather, who can we be together. While I would have loved to learn this lesson in a way that didn’t involve taking steroids and blowing up a like a balloon, it was important that I was reminded of this as I continue to become more at home in this community and begin to understand how this year will affect the rest of my life.

The biggest bummer about the eye is the affect it will have on my ability to run the marathon on the 21st. Well I am disappointed, it was decided that running would not be the best idea. I have however, found some weights, so maybe instead of a marathon I can enter a body building competition.

I’m excited to have my full vision back, as along with clear sight, a greater appreciation for my health and a refreshed perspective on Indian life will be renewed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A thought from Henri J.M. Nouwen

For lack of my owns, I found Henri J.M. Nouwen's words to be soothing this week.

You are living through an unusual time. You see that you are called to toward solitude, prayer, hiddenness and great simplicity. You see that, for the time being, you have to be limited in your moments, sparing with phone calls, and careful in letter writing.

You also know that the fulfillment of your burning desire for intimate friendships, shared ministry, and creative work will not bring you what you really want. It is a new experience for you to feel both the desire and its unreality. You sense that nothing but God’s love can fulfill your deepest need while the pull to other people and things remains strong. It seems that peace and anguish exist side by side in you, that you both desire distraction and prayer concentration….

It is clear that something in you is dying, and something is being born. You must remain attentive, calm, and obedient to your best intuitions…You feel vulnerable but safe at the same time. Jesus is where you are, and you can trust the he will show you the next step.

~Henri J.M. Nouwen