Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week 16: Unusual Seasons

Pictured here is Shaman Sonnleitner at Kanniyakumari (the most southern tip of India) in January. After fully three months abroad, this Blazer fan extraordinaire has now returned to Portland in time for both March Madness and the Playoffs. Though his Mom and I miss his presence here, we are glad to have has his company so long in India. Now he can enter a new chapter of his life while also contributing to the sports mania that this time of year is known for.

This has been an unusual season in so many ways beyond basketball. Shaman, his Mom, and I have had no winter! We have certainly learned to sweat well and to survive nights without electricity to feed a fan. Hey Shaman! Remember that backup battery system we paid for? Last night it lasted the advertised three hours and then expired! Lightning continued to brighten the skies all night and the rain has been coming in a steady stream. Oh goody, he might agree: more humidity! No doubt the temporary cooling effect will be paid for dearly when the sun soon arises to its normal 90 by 10am and more in the afternoon... As I write now at 6am, the roosters are greeting the day in spite of the first rain in two months -- and it is very peaceful. Later it will be like a very wet sauna!

So what is new?

Kris and I are beginning to plan ahead for the arrival of our daughter Mira (age 19) and her friend Naomi (21) a month from now. In the meantime, April looks to be full of possibilities ranging from my accepting speaking engagements in the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu to traveling to Pakistan where Fulbright would like me to contribute to a Conference there celebrating their 60th anniversary in the country. The big problem with the Pakistan option is that they would not allow Kris to accompany me due to the security (or lack of security?) situation there. Bombings in and near Islamabad definately does complicate travel -- and I wonder how well my proposed lecture will be received: ``Nonviolent Responses to Terrorism``. It would be fun to find out!

This past week a three day National Seminar on ``Gandhi and Religious Pluralism`` was held at nearby Mahatma Gandhi University. Just two days before it was to begin, I was in a meeting helping to finalize the program! Those of you who know me might imagine the exasperation felt by one as obsessively organized and as compulsively perfectionist as I am. Surprise: a little detachment can go a long way to reducing stress! Yes, I put in about 5 hours producing a paper which (as it turned out) I had only 10 minutes to present – but such matters I am now becoming more accustomed to. Mellow Me? No, not quite… But I think I grimace, roll my eyes, and sigh a little less now than before. As it all worked out, while most of the presentations were as boring as I had expected – some good new relationships were begun and it was a pleasure to see some of the folks I have shared with during the previous four months elsewhere in Kerala and beyond. Relationships. Is that not really where much of the hope for a future can be found?

The sun is now brightening the eastern sky over my right shoulder. It is a hazy red sunrise, made a bhit surreal by all of the moisture still in the air. The rain has just subsided and sounds of prayer are filling the air. Nearby catholic nuns arise early and provide a spiritual greeting to the day. Birds are adding to the music as they fly among the cocoanut, banana, papaya, and jack trees that are currently bearing fruit. There is much to be grateful for here – as anywhere we may be. As I now complete this blog entry before the battery on this laptop dies, I hope that each of you may take time in your day to count your blessings. Though electricity and cool temperatures may not be among our joys here, there is so much to appreciate. Creation is not only what we see when eyes are open, but what we can give birth to with our positive attitudes. Gandhi was right: problems can be opportunities and our opportunities as best when they are embraced.

Yes it has been an unusual winter season for my son Shaman, an unusual season for basketball, and an unusual season full of learning opportunities that are only beginning to be appreciated. It has been a pensive week and a beautiful morning. I am thankful for having been able to share some of it with you.

Peace be with you all as we approach the easter season of renewal – as renewal is crucial regardless of what religious (or even non-religious) tradition there may be. Yes. Peace be with you Shaman. Peace to us all.

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