Sunday, January 1, 2012

Epilogue for the Future

When these writings were begun in November of 2009, the primary intent was for them to allow those who care about my wife and I to keep in touch with us during our Fulbright-financed six months in India, which we later stretched to include nearly a month each in Italy, Palestine, and Egypt. Because of world events as they then unfolded, and the awarding of a separate Fulbright grant to my colleague at St. Thomas College, Stany Thomas, I carried on the commentary of our lives during the intervening months prior to his arrival with his wife Shanty, and then through his return to India ten days ago. As I look back upon the volumes of experiences which have filled these blog entries, it is my hope that those who have wandered amongst them have gained some insight through our eyes. At any rate, it seems time to draw this chapter of life to a close.

As I awoke this New Year`s Day the sunrise was quite breathtaking. He rough outline of Mt. Hood yielded to soon reveal its snow-covered slopes reflecting the shades of red and orange radiating elsewhere across the horizon. Exceptionally beautiful as life can sometimes also be. As I was out getting some flowers for my wife, my camera was not present to capture the image, so it will have to remain in my mind`s eye until memory fades, as it often does. The present, however remarkable always becomes the past, and may guide us to reflect upon what may become the future. If these writings serve to promote such reflection in anyone beyond the writers, then such a result is all bonus. For myself, as I now look back over these remarkable two years, I can am reminded that they were real and will provide much for me to reflect upon for as much time as I may have left in this life.

Much of what has transpired seems embodied in the photo of the Maple Leaves taken last August when they were basking in the light of late summer. Mature, as I was returning to India after nearly 40 years, the tree that bore them has seen many seasons and smiles upon the ground as it changes below. If Stany and Shanty return to the same location near Mt. Hood in the future, that same tree may speak to them, but with new leaves quite as wonderful as those set now in time. I may even be compost by then – but will live on in the circle of life which does not end.

The future is not ours to see, though we may seek to influence it positively. Stany`s Fulbright visit to the U.S. was not anticipated when my wife and I first embarked began our journey to India two years ago. With effort, Stany and I now have hope that many more lives will be touched through a student exchange we hope to have operational within two years from now. Portland Community College students will then, in future years, be able to grow in consciousness of the world as I did at age 21 when first I traveled abroad to India and beyond. St. Thomas College students will join the learning process by coming to the U.S., as Stany and Shanty have, returning to their homes with experiences that will impact them in unforeseeable ways. Lives will blossom and create a display of beauty not unlike the flowers pictured here under a blue sky. As Shanty said at the time we visited the Rose Garden in Portland, ``this is like a part of heaven``.

Gandhi`s life was devoted to building Ram Rajya: the Kingdom of God. At the end of his life, he had feelings of great failure as the goal seemed so distant. Yet he did, and we still can, catch glimpses of it both in the natural world around us as well as in the relationships which grow amongst us. Just two years ago, for example, I knew nothing of Stany Thomas and his wonderful family. Now he and I are as much brothers as if we were born such and our families have become so intertwined as to be merged. Let this last photo in the collage that has interspersed these rambling words remind us of what can come of our common efforts which, with grace, may bear fruit to sustain ourselves and others.