"Everyone of us needs half an hour of prayer each day, except when we are busy- then we need an hour."
St Francis de Sales
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This week's Maitri Tunes is dedicated to Trishna, a dear sister to many in our eco-system who has been dedicatedly planting seeds of loving kindness (Maitri) which has led to the blossoming of an incredible community in London. Trishna's stories which show her invaluable heart of service since the early days of Service Space in the Bay Area are truly legendary.
This summer, life blessed Khushmita and me with the gift of being her guests, and we marvelled at how she was effortlessly juggling being a committed home-maker, a devoted mother of two incredibly sweet daughters Sareena (age 7) and Ariyana (age 4), alongside contributing all her spare waking hours to service work, often staying up late hours in the night after putting her kids to sleep.
We also got a wonderful glimpse into how this talented editor of Kindful Kids, was planting beautiful seeds of transformation in her own kids everyday. One of the daily practices that I was deeply touched to witness was that every evening just before the kid's bed time, the entire family has a circle of sharing with prayers and songs from diverse wisdom traditions, and a reflection on the blessings encountered, acts of kindness received or done by you that day. So sacred is this family time, that when Deep (Trishna's husband) had to look for a new office space, he made sure it was within a short distance so that he could be home early in time for the daily circle of sharing.
No stranger to having world respected pilgrims such as Satish Kumar and Masami-san pass though her home, Trishna applies wisdom she gleans effortlessly into her daily life. She once asked Satish Kumar "How do I inculcate healthy values and practices in my kids?" to which he promptly responded "Walk the talk." This in turn led to the the practice of quiet time as a family, reminding her that "Values cannot be taught, only caught."
Another beautiful practice they have inculcated in their kids is that every year when extended family and friends want to bring them birthday gifts, they gently request: "Instead of a material gift, could you please dedicate an act of kindness to someone else and share the story with us as our birthday gift." This small gesture, in turn ends us galvanizing entire communities to do random acts of kindness like the "Baked with Love drive".
That said, not all is "work and pray" for this family, which finds innovative fun ways to spend family time. One of their exercises is "Karaoke Dance", asking the kids to play a video of your favorite song whose lyrics you know, and then imitating the dance moves as you sing along. Of the dozen or so songs we "karaoke danced" to, I was deeply touched when Sareena chose "O Paalanhare" from Lagaan which also happened to be my mother's favorite song in her passing years, a song we both often sang together during long car drives through the country-side.
I remembered how singing songs together would make my mother forget her pains, and she would be transformed into a little child as she joyfully surrendered all her troubles to the Lord, praying for strength to be equanimous through her challenges while also being grateful for a rich life well- lived.
Closing this note with a saying of Christ that has been alive with me for a while now:
"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
(The word translated as converted literally means 'turn' or "change". Elsewhere in the New Testament, the change of heart demanded by John the Baptist and by Jesus often uses the word metanoia. German theologian Heinrich Meyer suggests that Jesus' challenge to his disciples is to "turn round upon [the] road), and to acquire a moral disposition similar to the nature of little children".)
"Children who pray and play together, heal the world, one home at a time."
Lyrics and translation:
O Palanhare, Nirgun Aur Nyare, Tumare Bin Hamara Kaunon Nahee
Hamari Uljhan Suljhao Bhagwan, Tumare Bin Hamara Kaunon Nahee
Tumhe Hamaka Ho Sambhale, Tumhe Hamare Rakhwale
Tumare Bin Hamara Kaunon Nahee….
(Oh, great caretaker, beyond all words, above all things... apart from you, we have no one and nothing. Unravel our troubles, God!, Apart from you, we have no one and nothing You alone sustain us, you alone protect us Apart from you, we have no one and nothing...)
Chanda Me Tumhi Toh Bhare Ho Chaandni, Suraj Me Ujalaa Tumhi Se
Yeh Gagan Hai Magan, Tumhi Toh Diye Ho Isse Tare
Bhagwan Yeh Jeevan Tumhi Naa Sanwaroge, Toh Kya Koi Sanware
O Palanhare Nirgun Aur Nyare…
(You have filled the moon with light, the sun's glow comes from you This sky is splendid, because you gave to it these stars God, if this life, weren't decorated by you, who would make it beautiful? O, great caretaker, beyond all words, above all things..)
Jo Suno Toh Kahe Prabhuji Hamaree Hai Binati,
Dukhi Jan Ko Dhiraj Do, Hare Nahee Woh Kabhee Dukh Se
Tum Nirbal Ko Raksha Do, Rah Paye Nirbal Sukh Se
Bhakti Ko Shakti Do
Jag Ke Jo Swami Ho, Itani Toh Araj Suno
Hai Path Me Andhiyare, Dedo Vardan Me Ujiyare
O Palanhare Nirgun Aur Nyare…
(Listen, I shall tell you!, God above, I entreat you, give sad men courage, never let them be defeated by grief! Grant succour to the weak, let them live always in happiness Grant strength to your followers... You are the lord of the universe, please just hear our request There's such darkness on our path, bless us with brightness O, great caretaker, beyond all words, above all things, apart from you, we have no one and nothing...)