Available to Love
At the backwaters in Allepey, our lodging was a Homestay. We stayed with an Indian family that arranged our outings and prepared our meals. We were greeted by Joseph, who was wearing all white, but not because he was an Amma devotee (read earlier Journal for reference). He had striking white hair, dark skin, and brilliant eyes. He radiated Love.
The next family member we met was his 5 year old granddaughter Sarah, who could not get over the fact that she and I share a name. She giggled every time she saw me and had a compulsive need to poke me in the arm as if checking that I really did exist.
We were served tea with Indian “doughnut hole” treats. Really they were cookies of some kind and way better than a doughnut hole. Compared to the green tea I drink back home, I’ve had at least a two month quota of black tea in the 10 days I’ve been here already!
Later that night I was writing letters to send home with one of our group members who was schedule to leave on Friday. I have been traveling with Raphael Cushnir’s book Setting Your Heart on Fire: Seven Steps to Liberate Your Life,(which I strongly recommend). I set it down next to me in the “library.” To my delight, Joseph came in to keep me company, silently at first, and then he picked up the book and opened it to read. Though his granddaughters distracted him from the other room several times, he quietly came back and opened the book again. He did seem to be reading intently and I wondered to myself what he must think of this book that instructs readers on how to open to Love as the always abiding presence beneath our resistances, belief systems and histories.
Early the next morning, after my yoga practice, I taught a yoga session for my co-travelers. Sarah watched every movement. Better yet, her older sister, Aksa, who is 8 years old, participated famously! She was incredible. Not in her poses, though they were darned good. It was her attention span that struck me. She radiated focus and delight.
The girls left for school and we had breakfast with our host. Joseph’s wife is a fabulous cook and he made sure we ate and ate. Even if your plate was still half full he was coming by with another fermented rice pancake. He must have thought we Americans looked thin because he did this repeatedly.
Later that afternoon, when the girls came home from school (we had been out on our backwater tour), Aksa told me all about showing her yoga to her school friends. She taught them the tree pose and the standing forward bend pose. Such joy in her face! We colored pictures together with her sister and I taught them how to fold paper into sealed triangles, which they delighted in as well.
Though we had been with this family a mere 38 hours, when it was time to leave this morning, information was being exchanged and group members were planning to send letters back to the girls. I’m going to send Aksa a kid’s yoga book and a coloring book for Sarah.
What struck me the most about this family experience was the availability in their eyes and hearts. Joseph radiated love and service in every moment I saw him. He is a retired political science teacher and told us that he’d been visited by 32 countries, while he himself knows only one: India.
What does it take to live as love in the world? Perhaps we would discover the answer if we traveled the world and looked into the eyes of our global family. Or if we read the right books. But perhaps it comes from simply making our hearts available to each other in the fullness of the moment we are sharing. Now.
You don’t have to leave home, or even know how to read, for that to occur.