15 November 2008

technical information about chaplaincy

part of what we do is called the "ministry of presence".

i like that.

i'm trying to move the building over to mangolandia.org

to consolidate and so on. so if you check here, and could figure out a way to check there, that would be great. there are a few different categories. i'm still figuring out the technology.

let me know if you have any suggestions

ankurbhai at mangolandia dot org

one love

a note from denali in ahmedabad...

and second, from the book, For a Pagan Song, by Jonny Bealby, which i
found on the shelf in the ashram house and read.. a guy's account of
his journey from rajasthan thru pakistan to northern afghganistan
following the trail of some rudyard kipling characters, searching for
the last non-islamic pagan tribes of the remote northern mountains.
very well written. he went just as the taliban was about to take
power, too. this is from the first chapter, where he is on a train
across rajasthan which mysteriously stops, he sees a lot of nervous
chattering among the train officials, and the train backs up a half
mile to find the body of a guy who fell asleep in the door, then fell
out and split his head open. after a furious debate between the
conductor who says it's bad luck to bring the body on the train, and
the TC, who argues that after all he has a valid ticket to jodhpur
still in his pocket, so he ought to be entitled to use it even if he's
dead. plus, he might have a wife waiting for him. the TC wins, and
he is plunked back in a seat until jodhpur. this prompts our author
to say:

But that's India- anything can happen and usually does. As one fellow
traveler put it to me: "It's the only place on the planet where
everything that has ever happened in the history of the world is
happening every minute of every day, right under your nose." He's
right. I mean where else could I have watched a cow casually give
birth in the middle of a three-lane inner-city ring road or seen
vultures swoop to pick the flesh of recently deceased humans? Where
else could I have observed a camel wandering the streets under a
mountain of straw while being shaved by a blind man on the pavement?
And where indeed at 3 in the morning after a riotous midnight dinner
could I have abandoned my dangerously drunk taxi driver in favour of
an enourmous elephant called Rubkali with "STOP-HORN PLEASE!" painted
across her arse? Though not always pleasant, travelling here is about
ten times more intense than anywhere else I've been; a vitality

14 November 2008

pivotal moments in chaplaincy: for the love of the dharma

Pivotal Moments #1

It's out there, in a Fine Balance, somewhere:
An abusive cop
Beating our heroes
and taking bribes
Just to get lessons
for his daughter to play
the violin

Which of my luxuries
rest on terror?

Waves of great comfort
Lightness of load
When I get it,
there is no away from it.

We are made of violence,
and it's the suffering that binds us

Pivotal Moments #2

In the movie about sacred trust
and patients falling in love with their pastors
One monk, she said,
"they think they are in love with me,
but really it's the dharma they see"

Afterwards, after words
and silence besides,

I said without thinking --
"Do you think we ever really love each other,
or are we always in love with the dharma?"

She thought without saying --
"Now let's not think on this one..."

Then said to me, tearing --
"When I learned
as a child
that our fingerprints are all different,
I felt so incredibly alone."

11 November 2008

pilgrimage reduction

as an ode to reconstructing education, i'm here in the house of my highschoolenglishteacher, amidst the wind and the fury of a port city extended gingerly on the quimper peninsula. there are sleeping dogs and humans upstairs and my body pulses warm from yoga and delicious hot water. we worked for 10 hours yesterday, going over the "sometimes we walk alone" manuscript with shears and curiosity, melting pats of better and looking out for the confused reader. we got through 10 days (of the 26) and have another four hours this morning before i hitchhike back to sequim to teach a four-course cooking class on squash.

ironic perhaps that the buses don't run on veterans' day, when most of the regular passengers out here seem to be down-and-out veterans.

but i'm always thankful for an armistice, and even hopeful this season to see a few more.

last night, before we cooked dinner (pumpkin in a guajillo sauce, made into enchiladas) chris assigned me to take a chapter of the book and boil it down into a poem. a reduction he said. he's trying to speak my language, you see. so i tried -- the chapter was about an old man i met, 91 years old, who had met gandhi on the same road 76 years before, had his life changed, and spent the rest of it fighting for freedom, against the dictates of family and caste. i've probably posted that excerpt sometimes in the past.

march 14th : matar : reduction

This can't be real
Pilgrims are supposed to be hungry,
 touching the feet of their elders,
Hopeful, humble, invisible amidst the hubbub.

This can't be real
To walk into a foreign land
be trumpeted and garlanded
after long meditation on my unworthiness

They take me to the statue.
They take me to the fair.
And they take me to our grandfather

In India, family is life.
J. gave up his life to begin it.
To midwife a nation, besides

Beaten, tortured, and scorned
A shadow of a son's pain
of being a son, no longer,
to his father.

There's no turning back
The future is jail,
struggle, revolution, triumph

As our grandfather defines ahimsa


That's the poem and if I could boil it down to a sentence it would be "I mean, God Damn!". But chris liked it and maybe wants to destroy the book and replace it with poetry. But he's just like that and we've both known it for years. He has a friend and colleague who saw life and everything else in Rwanda, came away with a book of poetry that includes a poem that includes some sayings he learned there, including

"Let only laughter scar your face"

Which, I think, is even better than everything else.