May your heart be filled with gratitude and may your belly be filled with yummy! I am so grateful for you, my dear friends!
I remember the first time I saw snow. I was seven and had come to the United States from India with my family, about three months prior. I could hardly believe what I was seeing through the living room window! I hurried and put my navy blue fuzzy coat on with a good warm hood and ran outside, eager to feel it’s sparkling beauty on my little self.
We’d heard of snow but if you didn’t live in the Himalyas, your brown Indian awareness had likely never laid eyes on this exquisite stuff. It was one of the things we eagerly anticipated from the moment we landed on American soil. And here it was! Way more mystical than I’d ever dreamed possible.
I stood quiet and still to listen for the falling, just as I loved listening to rain on roofs and sashaying against windows, but I heard absolutely nothing. I put my arm out in front of me so I could be sure this amazing wonder was landing on me, but I could feel nothing.
Wow! I thought. This is real magic. The silence and weightlessness of this sweet gift from an invisible sky augmented my awe and pulled me deeper into its quiet, conquering world, so full of mystery and joy.
I don’t remember how long I stood there, my right arm out in front of me, sweetly spell-bound, staring into the dimensions and layers of sparkling stardust coming to us on tiptoe like they had secrets hinted at with winks and giggles.
I enjoyed that winter immensely, learning to make snowmen, go sledding and eat icicles from the neighborhood kids. And to this day snow has never lost it’s enchanting beauty for me.
Wishing you all the sweetness of warm memories and magical moments this beautiful season. And may 2022 bring you the congregating joys of your heart!
I was telling some friends about my first Thanksgiving in the United States and thought I’d share it here (lucky you!).
Many moons ago, when I was seven years old, my family made the 25-day trek to the United States from India – yup, it took that long, basically because it was before the Wright Brothers were invented. It was late September when we finally landed in Kentucky. Was it worth the long journey? We’d better tackle that one in another blog (cough cough).
When November rolled around we were delighted with the changing season, something new to our monsoon or non- monsoon climate back in India. We had never heard of Thanksgiving either, so when someone knocked on our door, branding a hearty smile, and handed us a big, cold, hard, round thing, we had no idea what it was. We were the dot- not- the- feather kind of Indian, (oops Christopher Columbus) so naturally we said, “What is it?”
They said, “A turkey!”
Well that certainly cleared things up.
“What’s that?” we exclaimed wide-eyed, which had quickly become our plastered expression for the first several months in this new land.
“It’s like a really big chicken,” came the still smiling response.
Stranger and stranger. We knew what a chicken was, but this gigantic white ball didn’t resemble, in the slightest, the chickens running the streets of India or the ones we had bought at the market, still alive and kicking.
We accepted it as graciously as possible in our attempt to fit in and not rouse the natives of this new culture. No need to upset the neighbors. Remember what happened to the other Indians? (They lost their feathers).
My father heaved it into the kitchen and my mother got out the biggest knife we had. After hitting what looked and sounded like stone, she exasperated, “I can’t cut it!”
“Let me see,” offered my dad. After a good go at it, not even a molecule he could extract from its impenetrable bulk.
He bravely went to the neighbor and conceded, “We can’t cut it.”
“Take it to the grocery store. They can cut it for you!” came the ever cheerful answer. These people seem so happy.
So off my dad went. The “grocery store” was nothing like the bustling, colorful, pungent marketplace in India, as I would discover later.
I’m sure the clerk in the meat department was a bit puzzled when my dad handed him this huge frozen turkey, asking for it to be cut. He must have scratched his head and thought a few “foreigner” thoughts. He did, however, in his good worker attitude (those were the days, right?) continue to fulfill this request, as best he could.
He placed it on a giant slicer and moved the blade back and forth. Eventually, his act of great faith and the-customer-is-always-right disposition, produced a humongous pile of shaved frozen turkey – don’t ask me how he managed to miss the bones, or did he? My dad proudly carried the success of his venture home.
“What’s this?” inquired my mom.
“The turkey thing – I got it cut up.” What else could he say?
“OK then,” she retorted. (What she actually said in Hindi doesn’t translate well, at least for a PG-13 audience.)
She dutifully dumped it all into a big pot with her special blend of spices normally used to make chicken curry. We all hoped for the best.
After an interesting meal, I can only say that I did not learn the primary impetus of this new American holiday – to be thankful. However, I did learn to hate turkey. And so did the rest of my family.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
But thankfully, the echoes of my own heart revealed a growing peace and confidence cultivated by that radical claim stamped on my forehead: Everything will work out!
The tumultuous world
Will always blow us
This way and that
With lies that birth prophets
Who stand tall
Because the winds
Live strong in their truth
Sometimes i feel like
The crickets and aspens
Who sing with the purity
Of their whole bodies
It’s the small truth
I offer the world
It’s my refuge
Like walking thru the halcyon
These fleeting weeks
When the sky shows her true heart
Lifting the veil to a dazzling sapphire
Enchanted with fairy dust and gold
Sudden scarlet piercing
The embracing blue
Breathing the peace
Soft amber under my feet
The gentle coppery drift
Of changing seasons
Rustling to become
the sail time travels on
shrinks and us smaller still
in the wake of sky-filled luminous canvas
Let us learn from you
to embrace what
time grants us
to hold what we touch
in reverence for what
it will grow within us
that’s why we’re here
the seen and unseen
cannot separate worlds
they feed each other
shall we not mistake pain
and medals for self-worth
neither will reward
our great Consciousness
rising and thriving
when we seek the path
only with eye unblemished
by transient standards
of men and women
my hands cannot catch
the sparkle you sail on
bouncing from your unfettered heart
But I keep it
in a teaching place
so my mind will not forget
the unseen that grows inside me
and not regret
what escapes to less than dust someday
but eternel inside me
by Shashi Light
for Phil Emmanuel
Image by Maya Mendoza
Several years ago, when I was living in LA, I was going home after an event downtown and it was late – probably around midnight. I had parked in a parking garage that only took cash. I realized that I didn’t have any, as I got in the parking garage elevator. It stopped at the next level and four big, very tall Black guys got in. As the elevator gently hummed the five of us up, I thought, well I could choose to be scared right now, but instead I said, “Do any of you have any cash? I don’t have any to pay for parking here.” All of them reached for their wallets and handed me money. I gratefully took what I needed and smiled and wished them a great night as I stepped off the elevator. (Just to be clear… I’m not insinuating that the color of their skin was cause for apprehension. Any woman alone in downtown LA late at night might be concerned when surrounded by four men of any variety she didn’t know.)
Yesterday I had the privilege of participating in a peaceful march. It felt so good to be a part of this pivotal point in the history of the world where things are changing, people are understanding what equality really means, people are seeing that a lot can be done to move towards real equality for Blacks, all over the world: economically, socially, politically, judicially, in the job market, in healthcare, and especially in our hearts.
Do something especially kind to/for Blacks at this crucial time when every voice needs to be heard.
There’s a hope that never dies
Even after you’re gone
Into the light
Are you looking over your shoulder
No more pain eclipsing your heart
Do you bend your wings
To smooth away our tears
We are tired of fighting
For the danger is not broken glass
Or burning streets
But the fire inside cold hearts
That feeds itself
On arrogance reduced to fear
Can you see
Beyond our mortal eyes
A day when
No one has to
Hold a sign
To be recognised
Do you see the one
Who hurt you
As the one who bleeds inside
by Shashi Light
Image by Thomas Blackshear
I want to share some thoughts that have been rolling around in my head over the last several days. First of all, my heart goes out to any of you who may be dealing with illness caused by COVID-19 or have a loved one who is. It is a fearful thing to face the unknown when your life depends on it, possibly. I am sure social media and the press have caused undue stress and fear when this is a time to not panic, as panic blurs good judgment, leading to bad decisions.
I’m the type of person who tries to look for the what might be gained from “negative” occurrences. I’m noticing that this situation has brought me back to focusing on what is really important to me. I’m reaching out to friends and they to me, to check in, to say, “Hey, I’m thinking about you,” to communicate appreciation and gratitude for their love and friendship. I’m offering items to friends and they are reciprocating with like generosity, as many of you are. I’m reawakening to what each moment’s highest priority really is to me. I’m savoring each conversation I have, and not letting a chance to laugh or smile or speak kindly pass me by. I’m able to be more patient with myself and others. I’m so grateful we have the means to communicate with those who are quarantined.
Lastly, I want to say “THANKS to everyone in the medical profession who are arduously working to care for the extra load of patients, executing mass testings, and doing whatever pssible to ensure our well-being.
And I am grateful for you, my friends! We are all in this together and we have hope, courage, and compassion to see us through! Sending love and good vibes to you all!