Posts Tagged ‘journey’

A Girl and a Goat from Gaonli

Friday, January 16th, 2015

When I was four years old, a missionary from India came to my Sunday school class. I don’t remember her name, just her sari. I had never seen one before and I was captivated.

She told us stories of the faraway land of India, of monkeys and camels and elephants, of the crowded slums of Mumbai and a woman named Ramabai Mukti who founded an orphanage and school for unwanted children.

It was a lot for a four year old to digest, but the woman and her stories made a huge impression on me. For years I was obsessed with India. I studied the country, its culture and history. I read alot about Ghandi. I asked my mom to take me to Devon Avenue in Chicago, where I purchased a sari of my own.

From the time I was 4 until I turned 16, I told everyone I met that I was going to be a missionary to India. As a religious kid in the Midwest, that seemed the best option to me for visiting this exotic land. Certainly my family would never have the money it took to travel to a place like that–we went to Indiana on family vacations.

And besides, I wanted to help. Even as a really young kid, I was struck by the idea that somewhere across the world, there was a girl like me.

But while I was born into a family who loved me unconditionally and encouraged me to follow my dreams, whatever they might be, this girl was born into a culture where she had no worth, no value, and no options. It seemed like a very random assignation of destiny to me. Why me? Why her?

 

As I got older, simple answers like, “Because it’s the will of God” didn’t work anymore. And although I renounced my future career as a missionary in my mid-teens, my fascination with India remained.

And finally, 37 years after I first heard of India, I set foot on its soil.

Last November I traveled to Jaipur with Tea Collection. My colleagues were there to shoot an editorial catalog for our Spring 15 collection, which is inspired by the beauty and culture of India. I was there as the storyteller, to record the sights and sounds and smells of our visit. To take notes on what it felt like to be there. To observe, to ask questions, to internalize the experience so that later I could make it real for readers who hadn’t come along on our journey.

But I had a second purpose. Tea Collection partners with the Global Fund for Children, and I and my coworker Jessie were to spend a day visiting a GFC grantee in Jaipur, an Indian-run nonprofit called Gram Bharati Samiti.

The day we spent in rural villages with Bhawani, Kusum and Sarita was the best day of my whole trip to India.

Better, even, than my birthday two days later when I was surprised with a chocolate cake and a gorgeous photo taken by our photographer Hideaki Hamada.

The people I met that day, the staff of Gram Bharati Samiti and the girls and women in the villages we visited–their faces will stay with me for the rest of my life.


I wrote a blog about my experience for Tea–you can read it here, and please do. You’ll find all about a 6-year-old girl named Buja and the amazing gift (baby goat!!) I was given by another girl named Rekha. It’s the best story, really it is.

 
Hardly a day has gone by since I came back without me thinking of those girls, those villages.

Someday I’m going back. I’m going back and I’m taking Bruce and Lucette with me.
We’ll ride elephants and tour palaces and go back to Gaonli village to see if Buja’s still there.

And then we’ll hop on a plane and head south to Mumbai. I want to see where it all began for me, I want to visit Ramabai Mukti.

 

 

 

-Lo, who can’t believe 2014 went by without one. single. word.

 

 

If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

I used to define myself as a Christian. I don’t anymore.

The shoe didn’t fit, so I stopped wearing it. Simple, really. And yet not.

Because when pressed to define my faith,  I have trouble coming up with an accurate term. A comfortable box to shove myself into. A category that encompasses all the whys and wherefores.

So I was intrigued by a definition I stumbled across recently in the back of a fantasy novel. (Sidenote: Many sci-fi/fantasy novels have really thoughtful and insightful takes on religion. I’ve read books by Jacqueline Carey and Robin McKinley, specifically, that caused me to think about my own experiences with God/churches/etc.  in whole new ways. )

This particular book was The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin. In the “Extras” section at the end of the book, Jemisin answers a question about exploring religion in her writing with this statement:

“Well, I consider myself an agnostic–not in the sense of doubting the existence of God, but in the sense of doubting the capability of any human religion to encompass the divine. More specifically I think religion alone is not enough to encompass the divine. Religion is a handy guide to living, assuming you’re still living in the society that existed at the time of the religion’s founding. It’s useful for unifying and motivating a population. But to understand ourselves and the universe, we need to explore other schools of thought–the complexity of the human consciousness, the limits of science, and more. I believe we will eventually need to interact with other intelligent entities, and exchange ideas. And we need to be wary of the ways in which letting others do this thinking and learning for us can come back to bite us on the ass.”

There is much about Jemisin’s answer that resonates with me. But in being a student of the divine, I have a long way to go. Many questions to ask and schools of thought to explore. But the older I get, the more strongly I believe that life isn’t about finding security in rote answers. Real living isn’t reciting catechism or memorizing prayers someone else wrote.

Life is seeking. Reaching. Asking. Taking a journey in search of the divine that doesn’t quite look like anybody else’s personal quest.

Some can embark on this journey from within the confines–the body–of a church. That’s a fine and beautiful thing.

I couldn’t do it. Can’t. Won’t.

So I left, and here I wander. But, to borrow from that Tolkien quote you see so often on the bumpers of cars, “Not all those who wander are lost.”

And neither am I.

-Lo, who means no disrespect to any whose shoe still fits.

 

 

Boots Are Made …for Watching

Tuesday, February 7th, 2006

Mood: Forgetful
Drinking: Done for the day

You know that there’s a new cinepoem on site, right? Did I forget to mention that?

Every time we finish a new one, I think, “Now this, this one is my favorite.”

But this time is different. Boots is special. She was an accident, actually. The unexpected child. See, M and I decided to put together three cinepoems for submission to film festivals. We chose Object, Slow Roast, and the not-yet-finished Alice is my middle name. But we needed something to string the three poems together. A transition piece.

So I started writing about a journey — a long and winding road, and then Boots quickly took shape. And the more time I spent with this little four-part poem, the more I fell in love with her.

When M and I went out to shoot the video, we were surprised with a glorious day, and the shoot that we thought would be “bare bones” (we didn’t even take our usual crew along) turned into something more spectacular. We decided then and there that Boots was more than a transition piece. It was its very own cinepoem, with its own two legs. So we edited the festival version, and then we went back and stitched together a solo version.

And here’s the part with the secret confession: Boots is the first cinepoem to make me cry. Trust me, that’s a damn hard thing to do. When you write these things, and you plan the shoot, and you stand in front of the camera, and you sit in the editing room for hours, it’s kinda hard to be surprised by what you see. It’s even harder to actually cry about it.

So if that doesn’t sell you on seeing it, nothin’ will.

So. I’m very proud to introduce Boots Are Made, playing now at a Cinepoems page near you.

-Lo, who’s a sucker for the third chapter. the one with the rabbit trail.