Surrendering to Grace: A Pilgrim's Journey
On 7th November, 14 yatris (pilgrims) started on a sacred pilgrimage, walking the same path that Gandhi ji and many Satyagrahis had walked from Sabarmati Ashram to the coastal town of Dandi during Dandi Yatra in 1930.
The pilgrimage started with many of us coming together in the prayer space at Gandhi Ashram, walled on 4 sides and open to the sky. While not everyone was walking, everyone felt deeply connected with the journey that was about to start.
Pratyush, one of the 14 yatris, very beautifully expressed this feeling:
“it's not just the pilgrim who walks, it's the whole lineage and community that walks together.”
As the pilgrims walk on the pilgrimage, the journey continues with us too in subtle ways. Ever since the pilgrimage started, Kavita Aunty, Pratyush’s mother and a mother to many of us, has been cooking and feeding 14 known and unknown brothers and sister, every day. Everyday as she cooks and serves the food, she has experienced beautiful moments of grace and serendipity.
Here are just two of those many encounters:
What you are seeking, is seeking you
“Since this morning, I am witnessing God's special mercy on me. There have many practical problems in the preparation of food — especially the early cleaning of the kitchen as bulk cooking takes time; winter setting in; late sunrise, and etc. The lunch has to be ready by 12 to be carried down within the best time to serve on the road.
YET with God's grace someone or the other steps in when I really need help.
Just today, a lady cook in the campus who used to chop vegetables at our place many years ago, walked in as I was packing food to carry downstairs. One of the family she cooks for is away and she wants to serve with me . She wants to make chapatis everyday till the family returns.
She insists that she will not take any money for this.”
This was her way of being part of the pilgrimage and serve.
A Simple man with a vision
“Surendra, the gardener (40years old) ,who came to lunch today was a bright student as a youngster in a village, with big dreams. His family wasn’t rich, but they had enough.
He got married while he was still studying. His mother had an accident and her foot was crushed. They had to sell their buffalo and many other things for her treatment.
After some time he decided to come to city, alone, to find work as a labourer and enrolled his wife for private B.A. in the village. He says this was the only way to fulfil some of his dreams and have a better future. He loved reading and borrowed books from the houses he worked for. Books on different topics that would increase his knowledge. After a couple of years when things were better at home, he too enrolled for private graduation.
His wife completed her B.Ed. and started teaching in the village school earning above 20K per month. His mother gradually regained the use of her foot and helped around the house. Father took care of the two buffaloes, milk and other things in the village.
His elder son aspired to be an engineer and went to Kota to prepare for entrance exams. But after hearing of the frequent student suicides in the city, he brought him back after a few months (not caring for the fee he had already paid).
Now, the bright, industrious boy is doing B.Sc at a college in Kanpur and also preparing for UPSC exam scheduled after 2years.
During his work, Surendra came in contact with many good hearted educated families and imbibed a lot because of his keen mind and insistent questioning. He may not have degrees but is well read. Today while talking of adolescent age, he gave me the practical gist of adolescent psychology.
He is forever trying to find ways to do things in a better way.
Two take aways in his words----
1. I could have found a clerical job in an office after graduating but then I would not have constant guides around me. My job as a private gardener to good families gave a good peep in how to bring up children + investment guidance
2. Since I was not always with my 2 boys as they were growing up, I made it a point to supply good books to them. I read them before sending and then we would discuss them and life lessons over the phone — public booths at first and when the technology came, cell phones. He refers to the extra expense as investment to his children’s future.
He is a family man and gives full credit to his parents, wife and the happy relationship they all have."
As the pilgrims on the Dandi Yatra continue walking on their path, Kavita aunty, knowingly and unknowingly, embarks on a journey with each of the 14 beautiful souls she touches with her compassion. And inspires us to keep walking this path of serving and forever surrendering to grace.
Bowing down to all the fellow pilgrims.