Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wish In My Pocket

A line of sixth grade boys stood tense on their heels, their eyes trained to the sky.

"What are they doing?" I asked as I settled down with my lunch at the picnic table with some of the other teachers of the Alachua Learning Center. The table was positioned only yards away from the boys.

"They're catching leaves," Yamuna replied.

"Oh really?"

"Yeah. And we've got front-row seats for the show," she laughed. Just then a great sigh brushed across the fields and rustled the trees. In moments, leaves began to flutter through the sky like soft glitter.

"Here it comes," Jamie said.

The boys sprang to life. They chased, dived, and tackled the air, the leaves sliding and swirling through the air like taunts. If two boys set their eyes on one leaf, they tackled each other to the ground with shouts; and as if playing a joke, the leaf would slip away from both boys.

When a boy would at last catch a finicky leaf, he would thrust it into the sky with a victory shout. Then he would jam it in his pocket... so he could catch another one.

And then, every so often, a boy would yell, "Ha! I get to make a wish!"

"Oh, I remember that growing up!" I marveled.

"Yeah," Yamuna said, "if you catch three, you make a wish."

Suddenly, the image struck me. Thousands of small, shiny brown leaves carpeted the ground in all directions... but the boys did not want a single one. They wanted three leaves caught with their own hands; only then could they make a wish.

I've been pondering the lesson of that afternoon recess for weeks now, and I've begun to realize that chanting japa is like so many leaves in my pocket. God is not an accountant, keeping ledgers of how many rounds I've chanted. Like the leaves scattered on the ground within easy reach, Krishna does not want or need robots to chant His name.

Rather, when I move my hands across sandalwood beads day after day, it is a way to measure how much I'll train my eyes to the sky, how much I'll stand on my toes, how much I'll sacrifice my life to love God.

And every day, when I finish my rounds, I make a wish: Please allow me to chant Your name, every day, for all of my life. 

image by renegade graphics


Mark said...

I love how you notice those beautiful simple moments in life. Thats how I want to be always.

shri ramesh sadasivam said...

I don't think there is anything we can sacrifice for God. Letting go of smaller pleasures/desires/attachments for a greater joy/bliss/freedom is no sacrifice. :)

shri ramesh sadasivam said...

Moreover, What is our's that we can sacrifice?

Tanya said...

simply beautiful.
thank you

Alphanso said...

Just awesome. Simple and yet so meaningful.

Vinod said...

In India many little children have their eyes trained on kites that are on there way down just like those leaves , especialy on Makar sakranti
.. n.. ladies try to sight the new moon every fortnight to make a wish .. that one comes true

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