In thinking about whether to go to India, the most enticing bit was God’s invitation to “playfulness”. It’s been a long heavy season. Not only was I getting the opportunity to do what I am passionate about, but to return to a lightness of being. The children I met invited me into their silly playfulness instantly and repeatedly. I probably spent more time on the floor playing games than any place else. What a delight!!!
After all the work was done, was time to make dumplings with the house parents of Grace Home – Puspa and Suryaman! It never ceases to amaze me how each culture has some type of dumpling. A universal victual. Loved the uniqueness of their shapes and designs. Cooking and laughing come hand in hand…
The last month since returning from India has been an intense time of cleaning and emptying a 3 bedroom house for sale. Even for my parents who don’t have many materialistic possessions, there were layers to be discovered, re-lived and surrendered. I was struck with how a ‘minimal’ life here in the States is truly extravagant to most of the world.
I was reminded of the simplicity of my time in Pune, India. There was a spirit of ease that infused this trip. I have never felt so comfortable in a foreign land whether it was interacting with strangers, working with the children, getting transport, exploring unknown streets or tasting new foods. Partly this ease came from the hospitality and kindness of the people of India and Nepal that I met. Partly this ease came from surrendering to a faithful God to guide through uncertain territory. “How lovely are the feet of those who share the good news.” Am learning how lovely is the path beneath the shadows of His guiding wings.
I focused on getting to know the 9 children living at Grace Home along with the pastor’s daughters. It was a rich and full time of meeting a minimum of three times with each child in individual, dyad and large group settings. Witnessing their creative process, their relational interactions while creating and playing, and uncovering patterns of behavior. It is always a privilege when anyone shares even the slightest glimpses of their story. To witness their unique voice.
The love and support they receive from the house parents and other caregivers were the solid foundation I could work from. An integral part of creating is destroying that white piece of paper or blank canvas. But what emerges is a reflection of emotions and experiences that existed without words or understanding. Art therapy is a powerful gentle means of marrying the divisions between experience and cognition into a realm of vulnerable fullness. A type of fullness that affords one a sense of empowerment that leads to healing, new hope and movement.
I loved my time in India and am so grateful to old and new friends as well as strangers who invested into the work with these precious children. What I learned will be shared with future teams of professionals. Providing history that will guide the direction of future care. What I learned will guide me in future projects of similar vein. I also had the opportunity with work with some of the caregivers. It is integral for those who give generously to receive rest, healing and movement of their own.
18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19)
The last three years have been ones of many memories. Living with my parents and caring for them breathed life into darkened and forgotten past moments. It was an onslaught of reliving for the purpose of forgiving and releasing. It was entering mountains of buried pain with the God of comfort and peace. It was learning to love without expectations and with an extravagance only Jesus could teach and equip.
Layers of surrendering the good and bad, past and present, emotions and thoughts to God released a joy and freedom that strengthened me daily. It was honing new skills with inconceivable weapons of warfare. The joy of dance transformed heavy sadness into a lightness of hope. Learning how the power of dance transforms worship into warfare.
Even before the death of my dad I slipped into despair and uncertainty of a life interrupted. When the pause button was released, only questions existed. What would I do? What was I worth? Hesitant at being fully present once again in my gifts and trainings, I sat in paralysis. I cried out to my God in weakness and loss. A visionary at heart, I was depleted of ideas.
In this hopelessness God extended His right hand of grace and power to my heart beckoning me to India. The sovereign God of Abraham called out my name. He asked “Whom can I send into the hearts of my children?” From my emptiness I whispered, “send me.” It was an invitation into His heart once again to go out into the ends of the earth where intimacy and dependency upon Him alone brings forth freedom and abundance.
Where creating art leads to revelation and understanding of the hidden things. Where revelation and understanding lead to release and newness. It is a gentle exchange of the former things for the newness of God’s promises. It is replacing fear for love. Feasting on His abundance in the midst of enemies past and present that try and keep us from the fulfillment of His promises.
In an hour, I meet with the first of many children to explore through art a heart neglected and pained beyond words. Am filled with gratitude and wonder at the people around me who have and are supporting me physically and spiritually as I sit with others in their pain. God truly makes a path in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.