There is a lesser-known version of the story of how we came to live in Bombay that has ripened into a fruit ready to be savored.
It was a humid June evening on the banks of the Hudson River. Fireflies danced out of the moist green earth. The retreat center was heavy with our silence. Ninety seminarians filed into the chapel prepared for our initiation.
Palms outstretched to receive the blessings of my teachers, I offered my heart’s desire to the universe, to spirit, to god, to humanity, to whomever was ready to respond. I vowed that my body would go wherever my spirit was needed. In a moment of complete surrender I asked for a sign that I could recognize. The next morning my husband called to say his company had offered him a position in Bombay.
I thought my purpose would be obvious once we moved to India. Instead, I woke every morning to the question, “Why am I here?” And I slept every night with pain in my heart for the sense of failure I carried at not recognizing what I was here to do. I consoled myself with the encouragement of teachers and companions who reminded me just to “show up”, be fully present to my life, and be patient with the process.
Last week our family in India entered a challenging time that may be an invitation to understand my purpose in ways I hadn’t anticipated. The last few days have been heavy with dread and hope, as we’ve waited moment by moment for answers to questions that revealed some of our deep fears and wishes. Last night I realized my purpose in being here may have nothing at all to do with ME, and nothing to do with Doing. Living my vows of ministry with my family has been an unexpected joy. Being present to my own experience allowed me to invite others in the truth of their own experience, to watch as the boundaries between self and other disappeared, and to feel the Light of Love flow through me.