I am home. I’ve had two days to organize my thoughts, my notes, my gifts and my laundry. I’ve shared my stories and tape recordings with my family. I have napped in the middle of the day, and I have been awake in the middle of the night.
The photo above was from Grover, and it was when the village outside of Patna was surrounding me in song. I believe it was the moment when I knew this village, as poor as they were, would make it. Somehow they would find their way to a better life for their children. I knew Freedom from Hunger’s (and Reach India’s) programs would make a difference here.
(Grover Thomas is Freedom from Hunger’s Chairman of the Board, and a pretty amazing guy. His personal blog is http://papistrip.blogspot.com. Take a look for more information on the programs, including his previous trip to visit our partner, CARD, in the Philippines. He also describes the singing moment–above-in more detail. It was an honor and a delight to travel and learn from Grover.)
I have been dreaming of India for years. I believed I was an intrepid traveler. I have been to other developing countries. I have seen poverty. But somehow, I wasn’t prepared for the extreme, complex issues I saw face-to-face. This trip brought me to my knees, and it brought me to tears. And not just the graceful, quiet tears that show one has been touched. I had a hotel room sob-fest that had me questioning my relationship with God, my work and showed me just how much I still had to learn. Hello? I am 50..some of these issues should have been worked out by now!
I had a few professional stumbles here, as well. This was the trip where I would show what I was made of, and quite frankly, I came up a little short. I can now see what I would have done differently, if I had the clarity and confidence required to get past my moments of emotion. I am normally more forgiving of my own missteps, but this was a big trip to not be able to deliver all that I hoped to.
The trip did have joys, and more than one Tour of No Regrets moment. I loved how the goddess Saraswathi seemed to lead us on our travels. I loved attending the Arati, alone, in the Hare Krishna temple. I loved seeing Freedom from Hunger’s programs in action, and truly experiencing how women are changing their lives and the lives of their families and communities. I loved meeting and getting to know my colleagues in India, and especially connecting with Sarbari. I loved shopping. I Ioved the food.
And while I can’t add them to the “I loved” list, I do appreciate that I had the opportunity, and the profound gift to be able to sit knee-to-knee with Fula Devi, and be able to hear and feel her story. I appreciate the texture and complexity of Kolkata. And I appreciate the opportunities to practice humility. I was not sure why “practice humility” showed up as a New Year’s resolution for me this year, when “learn how to be a competent cell phone user” would have been more practical. But it did, and here I am.
So now it’s up to me. I have a path to walk. It’s not clean, clear or well-tended. In fact, it just got a little trickier. I have stumbled a bit, and it won’t be the last time either. But I am gathering the courage to keep walking, and to do my part to tend to the work. After all, I am not alone.
Thank you for coming with me on this journey. I appreciate your support, your notes and your prayers. I’m not sure what I will be doing with this blog, but check back in a month or so. I am guessing there will be another stop on the Tour of No Regrets.