Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Touchdown!

My husband has an amazing capacity to receive love.

He's a wide receiver.

No, literally, he's a wide receiver. As in, one of these:


Now, I had no idea what a wide receiver was before I got married to one. In fact, I attempted to understand American football many times and attended my fair share of Superbowl parties and STILL was clueless (you Europeans aren't the only ones!). 

But football is my husband's favorite sport, and with patience he unraveled this sport for me. Similar to chess, each player in football has his own position, and the strategy is a complicated feat of skill and psychology involving multiple coaches for each position. 

In football, the quarterback throws to the wide receiver. This fascinates me that ever since he was a boy, Ghanashyam has played wide receiver. You see, I experience my husband as loved. He's loved by family and friends and mentors and his patients and bosses...! If footballs were love, he'd be pelted with those brown pointy things on a daily basis. But more importantly than being loved, my husband receives love. He actually catches the ball of love and doesn't let it bounce off his heart. Then he goes for the touchdown.  

The thing is, he doesn't just catch any ol' ball hurtling down the field. There's strategy. Discussion. Boundaries. Rules. Intuition. Love is about cooperation and then being open and ready to receive with a trusting heart. 

I've seen Ghanashyam play football. He is focused. Present. Mostly, though, he's grinning. Even when he misses a pass, he smiles and tries again. And again. 

What I'm coming to realize is that if life was a giant football game, we would ALL be surrounded by brown pointy balls flying our way all day, every day. We would be throwing balls, hoping others would catch our love. And hopefully, we would be receiving the love that our heart desires, opening our hands to catch that love and go for the touchdown. 

By cooperation with one another to give and receive love, ultimately we experience the touchdown of God's love. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Soul Passion

The man's head was bowed and his hands held slender wooden drumsticks. His hands tapped out rhythm, his foot pounded the bass drum, the sound filled the crowded subway platform.

My eyes drew like magnets to the sticks that flew in blurs from one drum and cymbal to the next, to the next, to the next. Hypnotized, I watched the strange combination of sounds create a song of rhythm.

The A train was taking forever. So I just stared and stared at the drum player bowed over his little symphony, his hands flying in micro movements in perfect timing. I wondered what it must feel like to be so present in the creation of sound until nothing else exists. The man was one with his instrument.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, tears shone unshed in my eyes and I turned away. I stared across the train tracks, surprised. Emotion? At a man playing a drum set? How come?

I probed my heart.

Absorption. Connection. Passion.

To witness someone so absorbed in a passion felt intimate and so beautiful. I felt this longing in my own heart to be absorbed with such passion in a moment and in life.

Today at school for St. Patrick's Day, the music teacher showed my students a video of Irish step dancing. I sat at my desk, and my eyes were irresistibly drawn to the screen, mesmerized by the lightning quick taps. The dancers smiled and moved with grace and beauty. Once again, to my surprise, tears came to my eyes.

Even now, as I remember, the unshed tears are quick to sting my eyes.

Why?

Absorption. Connection. Passion.

I want to live my life with passion. Presence.

But now I ask a good, hard question: What happens when the man packs up his drums? What happens when the dancers step off the stage?

What happens if no one wants to hear? Watch?

What happens when the body starts to decay and the hands can no longer hold drumsticks? The feet can no longer tap?

At the end of the day, does all the absorption, connection, and passion even amount to anything?

I sit here at my desk in the after hours of school and gaze out my classroom windows towards Tomkins Square Park. The image of Srila Prabhupad standing beneath a tree within that park 50 years ago comes to my vision and suddenly tears come to my eyes.

He had such absorption. Such connection. Such passion.

For God. For the holy name. For giving love. He changed the lives of thousands, even millions, including my own life. Without Srila Prabhupad's passion to give love, I wouldn't even have my own name. He has given me purpose and passion in life.

This time, the tears fall.





Tuesday, January 3, 2017

An Old Friend

"The bus is only two stops away, honey," Ghanashyam said, glancing at his phone. "I've got to go."

"Yes, yes, coming!" I poured hot soup into my husband's thermos and twisted on a cap with shaking hands. I slid the thermos into his lunchbox and handed it over.

"Thank you!" he said, then dashed away out the door. I took a deep sigh and began to clean up the kitchen. I turned around to face another counter and my heart dropped. The inner cap of Ghanashyam's thermos. This would mean his lunch would be cold and worse, the soup would spill everywhere. I hadn't woken up at 5:45am to make fresh soup for this!

I grabbed the cap and raced to the door. "Ghanashyam!" I called out into the hallway. Silence. I prayed that he hadn't left on the elevator yet. Frantic, I took several steps into the hallway.

The door behind me closed with a thump that echoed off the walls.

I spun around. I stared at the closed door, frozen.

Oh no.

I was in my pajamas and a robe, barefoot, holding a thermos cap. It was 6 o'clock in the morning in winter, the world still dark and asleep.

If Ghanashyam hasn't caught his bus yet, he could give me his key! I thought. Without many other options, I raced down the hallway, the elevator, and through the cavernous front lobby, my robes flying about me.

I dashed right out into the streets.

Barefoot, in pajamas, in the cold, dark morning.

Man, I must've looked like a lunatic!

I sprinted to the end of the block and glanced at the bus stop across the street. No Ghanashyam. Oh dear. So I padded back to our building. I had closed the front apartment building door carefully so that I could still get back inside. Once inside though, I realized I had looked at the bus stop for buses going in the wrong direction! So I RAN BACK OUTSIDE - barefoot, in pajamas, to search the OTHER, correct bus stop.

No go.

This time, though, I hadn't shut the front apartment building door so carefully and it had shut (and locked) behind me.

Jai.

Now I was locked OUTSIDE in the cold, dark morning, barefoot, in my pajamas and robe. With a thermos cap!

So I waited and waited, but it wasn't too long before a lady came out the door on her way to work and I got inside.

So what to do?

The building superintendent. Maybe he had a spare key to our apartment. But it was so early, surely he was sleeping. I had no phone to call him, I didn't know which apartment he lived in. Barely anyone was out and about at this hour, and I did not want to feel like a crazy woman, tapping on my neighbors' shoulders begging for our super's phone number.

So I went up to our hallway and thought, hm, I could ask Eddie for help, our friendly neighbor in the apartment directly above ours. But it was just too early for EVERYBODY.

So what to do??

Wait.

I slid to the floor outside my door, the tile cold against my seat and feet. I put the thermos cap up on the doorknob to keep it off the floor and out of my hands. I took a deep breath and, keeping count on my fingers, I began to chant, "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna..."

It was a strange feeling, to be stripped of absolutely everything except the clothes on my back (and a thermos cap). I had nothing and no one to turn to in the world, everyone was out of reach. And yet what could never be taken away from me was the holy name. The holy name was there for me to keep me company. The holy name didn't care whether I was a billionaire in a mansion or some young woman with only the clothes on her back.

The holy name was simply my friend, unconditionally.

In the dark and quiet morning in our hallway, I chanted for about an hour and a half. I would regularly check the sky to see if the sun had come up yet. At last, I figured it was early but not too extreme, so I walked upstairs and rang Eddie's doorbell. Sure enough it took two times, as he was scrambling to wake up and answer the door. He called and texted the super to no avail, then he suggested going through the fire escape as long as my window was open.

Eddie climbed down to my place, opened my window, climbed through and opened my front door. When he did so, the thermos cap came tumbling into the hallway from its perch on the doorknob.

So there you go.

That was my morning.

When I settled once again on the warm couch in my cozy apartment, I reflected how in the chaos of the morning, I had experienced a glimpse of magic. I had connected with an old and beautiful friend who was right there in my heart and would be there until the ultimate moment when all trappings of this material world would be stripped away - death. He would be there even if I couldn't physically bring His name to my lips.

My dear Krishna, O Holy Name, thank you for being there, thank you for being my friend. Unconditionally.   

To write is to dare the soul. So write.