My partner Lucas and I have made several trips to India over the last few years. It is our second home. While others go to Arizona to beat the Canadian chill, we go to India to warm our hearts and souls. We see an India that is often hidden from western eyes and the western mind. The India we see is seen with the heart.
As an example, one day I saw a young mother squatting on the roadside. She had two small children with her. Her baby sat quietly at her side and a young boy stood patiently as she methodically looked for nits and lice in his hair. They lived in a dilapidated shack. There was no running water, no electricity and no real door on the home. As I watched her administer to her children, I was so moved by the simplicity of the act. I was transported to years ago when my boys were young and I did the same thing, picked lice and nits from their hair. I was in awe of this beautiful being, who despite having nothing by western standards loved her children with such devotion. I saw too how little separated her and I – two mothers, just loving and caring for our children with all that we had to offer.
One of the most profound experiences of our last trip was our visit to the Arunachala Village School. The school was created to serve the poorest of the poor in the area. Every year they receive more than four hundred applications for thirty places in the school. When we entered the facility, I was moved by the fresh, innocent, beautiful faces of the children who attend the school. Their smiles lit up their faces and we were swept away by them. A small sign that hung in every classroom inspired me. I found out later that it outlined the school’s guiding principles. The sign read:
Love each other
Help each other
Respect each other
“I am privileged to be able to share these principles with all the children.” shared the Chief Administrator. “I am also privileged to bear witness to the transformation that is beginning to take shape in the children’s lives as they carry these principles outside of the school.”
India reveals countless stories that touch the heart. We saw love revealed in the faces of children as they grinned and waved “hello” to us on the streets. We saw love in the shy smiles of women as they glanced back at me as if to say “Welcome, sister!” Love reveals itself in the Sadhus, (Holy Ones) and beggars who have a hand out one minute and greet you the next with the blessing Namaste (I see the Self in you that is the Self in me) The power of love is revealed in the tenacity and determination of the Indian people to rise above their circumstances through spiritual devotion and hard work.
Lucas and I are grateful for the destiny that has led us to this place, India, our second home. We are grateful for the awakening that has resulted and has manifested in so many ways. We are grateful to see the world with our hearts and to know from that seeing what is truly of value. It is a blessing to be welcomed into the heart of India, so that we know with certainty that there is only one. All that separates us is a veil of illusion…a thought.
Cheryl Levine and her partner Lucas Stiefvater own and operate a Vancouver Island resort and wellness retreat centre. Cheryl is an aspiring writer and offers Life Coaching as part of the resort’s Healing Arts offerings. They plan on returning to India, next year.