Tag Archives: Health
In the auditorium at Jyoti Seva School for the Blind* fourth floor there are 60 of us – 50 ? Unsure. Maybe more. I take off my foot wear and search for words as one of the kids grins wide. They are eager, and cannot wait.
I have worked with kids at a few levels, but this time it feels I am learning, in this place that is like a piece of heaven. Dearest Lord God almighty, little butterflies fill my stomach and heart. Outside it is Venkateshpura, Bangalore at its’ busiest. Little lanes cartwheeling with vegetable vendors and bullocks, women in burkhas, men in welders’ shops. Every vehicle in Bangalore city seems to be here, and I find it hard to understand how the Polish Prime Minister found his way into these tiny lanes for that visit a few years ago. But then God can do anything.
Sis G (music teacher ) and I try a few voice routines ; what footwork will work on stage ? This is the very first time for me, for Jyothi Seva, dance and music, even drama is no big deal. I have many ideas, and Sis G among other amazing Daughters of Love here, ( Francescan ) are so generous with my various plans : some amount of fun- drama : show casing Daily Living Skills, Physiotherapy rings, Hoops, Trampoline, a ladder and a mock door through which six of their best will dance out, onto a mock street scene thick with cut out ( thermocol/cardboard )auto rickshaws, city bus, a cow, a bullock cart, vendors, and two sighted artful pickpockets ) Am I nervous ? Am terrified ! Sis G. the music teacher grins at me.
These are not just any kids, these are 85 + blind kids, brilliant, some do stunning vocals, and oh they can dance ! They are sharp, quick-witted and don’t you arrive without a proper plan.
One tiny tot ( aged 5?) thinks it is time to break the ice. She holds my hand and says, ” Aunty Ray, first you clap !” Her little face peers up at me thru’ a fringe, then with her small palm in mine she stands on her toes and asks, ” You are Johann’s Mama, no ?”
” Yes baby”, I nod feeling utterly speechless. How big is God’s university of Life. How infinite His love that we should all be called children of God. How little I deserve to see such beauty thru’ the eyes of little Angels.
We sit in a circle and chat till lunch break. It is boiled rice with potato/ carrot gravy, an omelette and steel mug with cool cool water, little aprons tied to their waist, around neck ; later everyone stacks their plates away and rinses their spoon at low sinks with tiny taps shining in the noon light.
Am humbled by the talent in these kids, humbled by how little I know about their world though our own son is blind and though I’ve been here so many times doing what one can with Personality Development : Uh. Am startled that all our words that try to be ‘ be somebody’ are still so uniquely variant with each individual – and startled is such a limp word.
Aruna ( 9 years old ) is amazingly acrobatic. Am thinking, this one should do a cart-wheel right across stage – can we pull that off ? The 6 minute- choreography underlines Confidence; not something I had planned to think or say , but as we met again, the word came out firm and quiet and firm. ” Look kids, this is more than just about doing a step and I know you are all great dancers and actors, but we’re going to show the world the confidence with which you go out the front door, right ?”
They aren’t jumping for joy but they each nod in quiet as if glad I’ve finally got it.
” Alright, before we break now, let’s run through some emotions, okay?”
” OHHHHHKAY !” ( phew)
“Right. JSSchool, can you show us some SAD ?”
Uh uh – the room is too happy to handle that. 2 seconds later they are rolling into each other with laughter. Not anything I could do or say to make them show me ‘SAD’ – what d’you say to that?
As I wrap this Post am uncertain how to end this Post. I wish I could fill this space with pictures.
Outside the gates of JSSchool for the Blind the world is thick with debate on politics, crime. Here we have to work hard at happy face-smile- lines, we have to work out routines that display Goodness, Honesty, Gentleness, Talents…
I’ve brought home a few lessons in those hours spent with kids who cannot see, some have been abandoned, some have parents that do not want them home, others go home on holidays… what I’ve seen is a thirst for the world outside their gate ; they love the feel of fabric, footwear, perfume and little things in my bag, my bangles and watch, the buttons in my shirt,dearest dearest Lord God what am I feeling but a huge sense of a Universe so vast I am gagging to grasp it all. How many more people are there in this world in dimensions we haven’t even begun to come near – and what kind of song could I choose to fit into Choreography to show case their life – words that will match, tunes that are rhythms of their life… the reality of their life – what can I teach that I must first learn, live, inhale, digest.
They sang for me , ” Bright Eyes,” ” Tomorrow”, a few songs in Kannada that sounded like heaven – raw sweet voices without the sin of assumption. I just hope and pray the world they grow into will not be a place ridden with power games and disguised crime. That they, all our kids, will be able to cross the street unafraid, pay their own electricity bill and at least one other persons’, with the ability to make each other unafraid…
I have run out of words, but hope and pray oneday you too will find heaven in the lesser known lanes and homes where God’s own babies wait to tell us their story. I hope and pray this world will understand the language of the Father as He sings over our blinded senses. My words are not enough to describe the way I feel – I hope you understand what I have tried to express.
Thank you for reading this.
*Jyothi Seva School for the Blind, Bangalore
What was wrong : that I was a woman, that I talked, objected, asked questions ? That I am left-handed, that I speak up ….whaaaaaaaaat ?!
” We are different cultures, ” he was now saying and I failed to see how, seeing that I too am South Indian but that my parents gave me the freedom to say it like it was ; there were no sons in our home, except dad and he taught us to walk tall, “Girls please wear pants it’s safer than skirts or that sari!”
Now I had this man staring hatred asking me who I thought I was to say anything at all, which gets me writing this post after all these years. Yes, it takes a while to remember/ know who one is. I’ll say this.
Most Indians are taught two things : One, to try be good and two, respect elders. Somewhere between that, there is the tendency to push self into a back-back-back of the backiest closet, lock the door and throw away the keys. What will the neighbours think if you object to them throwing garbage all over the place ? Open front door with a smile and welcome even if they knocked your door bell silly, be a great hostess, never confront people, time will take care of it..
This was a few years ago, and I had to let a so called ‘ friend ‘ go, because they took friendship past the point of decency, because it got to a gender issue where women weren’t supposed to speak up. Which breed of humanity dehumanizes women ?
( And lets not blame just ‘culture’ anymore. Our grandparents were beautiful people and there are things in our traditional values that still bless us. What is questionable is some contemporaries, not just Indian, who are killers of body, soul, mind, and they won’t stop with women).
Last night, all plates and dishes put away, the lights low in the bedroom where our youngest son went into his blanket ; the girls were yet to fall asleep, I peeped in at Joh, and he lifted that dark head calling me for a second kiss, then a whisper –
“Ma,I feel lonely.”
My heart missed a few beats ; it had been a long two months, there had been illness, a trip, school year starting over, uniforms that did not fit, unfinished assignments, a lingering cough and so many unfinished things…
“Why son ? We’re all here aren’t we ?”
“When you ‘re all busy with other things, I feel lonely,sometimes. “
Speechless, I hugged him close, closer, a third a fourth kiss.“You feel good now ?”
“Yes, but don’t go.” He said nothing after that just smiled and the room filled with feelings I have no words for.
Human touch. How abused, misunderstood those two words are : and so very easy to ignore in all our busy-ness. We sat there an hour, not just Joh and me, but all five of us, an hour in that quiet gentle dark as the little ones fell asleep.
Dearest Lord God, the worst disease on earth : ‘loneliness’ and such a simple cure right from the mouth of Babes.
At the Music shop everything stood silent ; everything except chords within. Have you heard your soul sing ? Almost against your wish ? Haven’t you ?
C’mon, Your soul – it raved, ranted, fought, wept, swore when ever it could, would. But then again it sang when it willed. When the tide turned, when it hit rock or sky, it soared like an eagle on wings you never knew you curled within, yes there – right there…
then it sang.
The words startle, shove you off the cliff, off the shelf you built over the years, flings you off your fortress, your strongholds – It sings for you with words never uttered, chords untouched just lying there waiting wanting plucking at your throat. This morning as I write this there’s music in my skin seeping through as if that were normal. As if there’s more to a planet than sunrise and mortal joys. I don’t know much but this is getting clear – we have soul buddy, we have soul. And that soul has gates waiting to be opened …
Often a song, ( see below *) a line follows you room to street, hallways, people, words, events, even the fantastic pales next to these few words smashing out everything else, like a River, a Tide – not because of a setback or a difficulty. Not even because one is excessive joyful… not even that.
I’ve never found reasons why one is drawn to a particular strain, a thought, a hunger. Is it an inner quest, a call from outside of our psyche ? Do we stumble on Treasure ? Does It lie waiting for us…
are there seasons of the soul, a certain Quest, an unspoke-request, a certain arrival and leaving, like airplanes, like lounges.. like skies melting into a new horizon every new second, returning renewed, there, not there – changed, re-arranged and yet as old as young, infinity ageless weathered, new… is there a plan we know ? Are these Maps we draw ; do we surrender to a Captain, should we ..
we are travellers, resting here a while, then a 10 feet plunge to new heights, who can tell with an adventure ? Who knows? When one leaves the security of a house with a fence, and asks for a walk with an Unseen God, you ask for new routes, for the unpredictable – for what eye can no longer see, what human ear has not heard nor been conceived in the heart of us ..
this this this, gives me Rest. That we can run a river, walk a tide, skim a cloud, melt a desert ; no other way would I have survived the boredom of a predictable life, predictable soul- wardrobe, uppity tables with no picnics, no five loaves and two fish miracles, what ‘ no miracles’? Oh Baby baby, how do we survive the monotony of global warming and Stock market crash, the rise and fall of petrol price, government – horror and crime, life and death – not things one can control, and this :
that one can lean on the One that loves relentlessly, keeping no tabs and tally, just needing me as I am, needing my trust. This December 2013 made it all real ; there was a time I would have cringed from saying this in a blog, not today. Not after you see somethings sitting alone in a room next to Intensive care : I saw dead eyes and dying faces even outside in christmas stores, in lanes filling with shoppers, not anything totally owned/ made/ filled the day with light except a Light we never made.
I saw my spirit rise ; saw a strange woman offer me a hot flask of coffee on a cold empty noon and the words ” I love you” in broken english and some telugu – a village woman asking me to pray for her kid with a kidney crisis ; who am I to even say yes to that request ; who am I except that yes we have the power to love back at least, kneel, the power to be humble in a public place, request life for each other, and watch as we do nothing else except lean. I watched too, my dad return to life. No explanations. I was preparing for death, was not ready for life. For the Joy that followed…
we know we will all die some day. As I write this there is a more than one death within a mile, but there is life. So much more life than we let ourself live, and that has startled me today, that we short change ourselves so lethally –
I stand in amazement at the One who made it all ; stunned by His almost scandalous Grace, at how He cares through every misunderstanding of His fathomless Love, realising how little I know of a Universe so complex, even my being. Who can tell what they hold within – do we realise who and what we are inside, do we not limit ourself when we refuse to walk on waters, let go, trust without borders…wherever He would call me… wherever dear God… wherever…
this is the single most freeing way I have ever been : where trust is without borders.. the great Unknown, dear God why are we so afraid that we be- little You with theories when we have not even a count of stars out there…
This December I found myself saying, ” Dearest God please give us a Christmas like none other ( not imagining our dear friend Johnston Richard was onto an Album with the same title , and asked if our visually challenged son Johann Noel would sing and do a small narration for him).
Johann who has never really sung with studio headphones on, leave alone narrate ‘cold cold snow’ not anything we have experienced. I now understand ‘snow’ is for the cold of the human heart…
Johnston Richard you raised the bar on this mother’s faith, on a challenged kids’ sometimes lonely existence. Christmas is not exactly a festive season for everyone – for those who are disabled physically, emotionally, financially, socially,oh so many ways…
not everyone gets Christmas trees laden with gifts, banquets and new wardrobe, or Love…
not every one is given a chance to be who they are. God reminded me/ us at the Noel home, He did create some really good people on earth, making for Peace, Joy, acceptance, of each other, and the Room for another to also shine.. ( rare ! )..
Listen to ” Cold Bethlehem” and our home visual -mix on U tube 🙂 of the song, also below, a brief from Johnston Richards
Talking about his new album and the Title :
JR : People around the world give gifts to their loved ones and share the joy of family reunions. For many people, it is a season of give and take. However, the true essence of Christmas is the joy that comes from knowing the truth that you are loved unconditionally by God. No matter how others treat you or how you look at y0xourself. This love shatters all logic and liberates you from self-condemnation and leads you to self acceptance. Through the unseen power of the unconditional love that moves the universe, you are propelled to love ‘yourself’ and then other people unconditionally and give of yourself without expecting anything in return. Christmas like no other is the moment of history when time stands still and you experience selflessness and accept the intense and unconditional love of the creator of the universe who loved the world and gave his perfect gift of love to an imperfect world.
If you could make a wish for the world today –
JR While Christmas is a time of joy and is celebrated around the world, to several people around the world it is a time of loneliness, financial hopelessness and emotional brokenness. But celebration and life doesn’t consist in the abundance of things or plethora of friends. Christmas is a message of hope. A message to the lonely : the Unseen power and love that moves the universe came down to earth in human form on Christmas day to save those who were ‘lost’. Without hope, without a future. Christmas is a time to go back to the basics and accept that love and feel the completeness. Love knocks on your door this Christmas and my wish for the world is that the people open the door and let the creator, who is love personified, fill their hearts with the completeness and euphoria of that blissful unspeakable joy.
What’s the toughest challenge being ‘Johnston Richard’?
JR Writing and composing songs is a gift that God breathed into me. I am strongly compelled that the songs that I receive from the throne should not be kept under a bushel. As any trustworthy steward, as the guardian and scribe of the songs, I am strongly inclined to get my music out in the open and put it on a lamp stand. My mission is to play in what I call H.O.P.E, which stands for Hospitals, Orphanages, Prisons and Educational Institutions. The toughest challenge I am faced with is acceptance. The industry has changed and it is tough to survive, let alone thrive, as a Gospel solo artist. Somehow, I believe that bands gain favourable responses as compared to solo artists. When you are soft-spoken and humble, the world takes meekness for weakness and tried to ride on your back. People tend to judge a book by its cover. You can be judged by the colour of your skin, your nationality, and stature. And there’s another thing. It’s a catch 22 situation -You cannot become recognized if you don’t have enough people buying or supporting your music; and on the other hand, people don’t want to buy your music if you are not well known. So far, I have been funding my music from my own pocket. It’s a challenge to do huge promotional shows on a shoe string budget especially when you have a family who depends on you. I personally know what sacrifice means. Through it all it has taught me respect for others in similar endeavours and has built in me strong values, character and gratitude. I praise God for His faithfulness, and thank my wife and daughter, and my dear friends for their incredible support. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my story in here God Bless what you do…
Johnston Richard lives in Bangalore ; besides his 9-5 job as a Professional Writer, he is a singer-songwriter, worship leader, author, producer and a guitar teacher. He has written and composed over hundreds of songs and has released two studio albums.Johnston partners with Besso Orphanage for destitute children. WWW.JOHNSTONRICHARD.COM. His second album, which is a Christmas Album, was released on December 7, 2013
…. like He had only one of me to love !
some things remind me of that feeling
even here – looking at a lake with one
just one lotus bud on tender stalk
in such deep water, as if held by nothing
nothing at all….
except a knowledge of a holding
( In passing a Lake with just one lotus bud)…