A Gift of Love
On my recent visit to India, I had the the opportunity to spend time with several inspiring soulsi n Ahmedabad and Pune. One man that I sat with on my last night in India was Suresh-bhai. Suresh operates the Nandini Van, traveling village to village educating rural citizens in the areas of sanitation, waste management, and public and personal health. But, he tells me, “The real work is on improving myself – ourselves - the projects are the means.” He tells me, “Relationships are what matter most. The real focus is on how we can love each other. Everything is clearer when we are in love. Love is life. Love is divine flow. If you meet the love, you meet your life.”
The Nandini Van visits villages in rural India for days or weeks at a time engaging in various projects. On one side of the van are three metal bins. While working with a community they encourage every person to contribute just a couple grains of three predominate staples daily into the bins. Literally, each day, each person deposits no more than a couple grains of rice, a few lentils in the second bin, and two wheat kernels in the third. At the end of their visit they ask everyone who could use this nutrition? And the villagers choose someone sick or elderly or who has been so kind and of such service, and present what has become in a short time, with everyone contributing, a large stockpile of the nourishing foods that they live on.
Because it’s my last night I need to pack, but with all the gifts I’ve received I literally cannot fit it all in my suitcase. Suresh lights up, “I have something.” He pulls out the trundle drawer under his bed in the room we are in, and I see literally his entire worldly possessions. He has four pairs of clothes besides the one he wears, some books, toiletries, I see a roll of tape… He has a black Nike bag and he removes his laptop from it, and hands the bag to me. “Suresh!” I say, “I can’t take your only bag!” But of course, in the end I do. He wants me to. Sidu promises me that he has extra bags and he’ll get one to Suresh. Suresh is zero percent worried about whether he’ll receive a new bag. He’s smiling because he has found me another gift in his drawer. For six months, he tells me, he’s had this beautiful Khadi ‘Be The Change’ shirt in his drawer and I’m the perfect one to take it.
Khadi is the hand-spun, hand-woven cloth that Gandhi promoted for self-employment and self-reliance – as an alternative to buying cloth manufactured industrially in Britain. Khadi and the spinning wheel became the icon of the Swadeshi movement for home-rule. (This is a photo I took at the Gandhi museum that also well articulates our work at BALLE: Be a Localist.) Apparently last year, a 90-year old man, who had followed Gandhi and walked with Vinoba, approached Jayesh-bhai, saying that he still spins five hours a day as meditation. Did they have any use for his cloth? Yes. They had his beautiful khadi made into shirts with Gandhi’s famous phrase, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, stitched on the backs. It was a man’s shirt and Suresh told me to gift it to just the right person.
From Gandhi, direct through his descendants. Peace, smiles, gratitude, and of course, it is all exactly as it should be. I am in the divine flow.
“Everything is clearer when we are in love. Love is life. Love is divine flow. If you meet the love, you meet your life.”
This blog is an excerpt from Michelle's reflections on her recent visit to India. While on a 6 week sabbatical from her work with BALLE, Michelle decided to spend a few weeks with several inspiring people in the Moved By Love family in Ahmedabad and Pune. You can read the entire compilation on this link.