Every now and again something happens to remind me what a privileged and protected life I lead in India. I live in a big city, in a housing society, in an apartment in a group of building enclosed in a compound (called housing society). It's not particularly fancy, but it's safe, and kids can run around without being scared of being run over by traffic.
A few days ago I went to a repair shop just outside our society to get our blender fixed. As I waited for the shopkeeper/repairman to fix it, there was a sudden disturbance. A group of men started yelling at each other just outside the shop. There was so much anger and violence in their voices. Within a few minutes, the violent words changed into actions, as people ran and joined the fight, grabbed iron bars while yelling at each other in Marathi (which meant I didn't know what the fight was about). It was so freaky! It's like I could see evil controlling these men. I started praying under my breath, while fear gripped me. I thought I was about to see a murder. People gathered around, but it didn't seem like anyone could stop them, though some tried. Thankfully the main angry guy zoomed off on a bike, and I left, not at all sure that he wasn't going to return with back up.
I was really upset. And then I realized, this was normal life for so many, including the kids I teach in the slum. How much trauma they must have been through.
Which is one of the reasons I am so blessed to be able to show the kids we teach a glimpse of the world outside the violence-ridden slum in which they live. I do that through talking and sharing with them as I teach them, talking to them about the different countries of the world, introducing them to books, Story Club, picnics, and last week a special Valentine's Day activity at my home.
We only took the 7th and 8th graders (me trying control the potential chaos by NOT inviting the crazy under 12 year olds). We taught them how to bake and decorate cupcakes, wore aprons (to the embarrassment of the two boys who came), make Valentine's Day cards for people they love (NO BOYFRIENDS OR GIRLFRIENDS!!), ate lunch together, packed the cupcakes in cute little boxes with ribbons, and just had such a good time together. The kids loved it!
Speaking of love, I've been reading some cool blog posts about marriage. Yes, I know, I know, for a single woman, I sure read a lot about marriage. I think though that a lot of the things I read apply to any kind of relationships to some extent.
Marriage as Work vs Marriage as the Cross
This one speaks more about the fact that sometimes marriage (and relationships, and life) are just hard! And that means if someone is struggling or has a hard marriage or life, it's not necessarily something that can be fixed, if you just work harder, or better, or get counselling. Sometimes life involves suffering, and you just have to accept those times without feeling like guilty about that too.
And another beautifully real one:
How Real People Make Shades of Real Love
We married wrong.
Don’t buy what anybody else is selling: Everyone always marry wrong.
Because what’s wrong in the world is always us.
Marriage and love and time, these are the enormous forces that inevitably chisel and change us into strangers. The springs sag. Mattresses sigh. Marriage changes us into strangers who have to meet and introduce each other to love all over again.
None of us ever know whom we marry. And falling in love never made anyone angels… it’s only made it clear how far we’ve fallen. Who we say ‘I do’ to — is not who we roll over to touch twenty years later. The challenge for the vows is to fall in love with the stranger to whom you find yourself married.
The real romantics know that stretchmarks are beauty marks, and that different shaped women fit into the different shapes of men souls, and that real romance is really sacrifice.
How crazy it seems that we get our views about love, romance and marriage from stupid shallow chick flicks and trashy romance novels which seem to have no relation whatsoever with reality.
7 Ways to Improve Your Marriage This Lent
Very practical, and again some points even relevant to us single people. It's written by Danielle Bean whose blog was one of the first Catholic blogs I started reading about eight years ago, I loved the stories she wrote about her life with her eight children. I even bought a book by her... for moms! And a few weeks before I left for the US, I dreamed that I was going to live next to her, and help her with her kids. Yes, I'm a little strange.
Well, marriage plus being Catholic often leads to babies, many of them, and then you get links to hilarious pregnancy anecdotes like these ones:
25 Hilarious Pregnancy Brain Moments
One of the few articles that actually had me laughing out loud:
And the picture at the top of the article makes me want to laugh even harder.
7. I cried at Smiths when they didn’t have any ripe avocados and actually told the produce worker “I hope you are happy, you pathetic punk…. I hate you….” He then found me in the check out and handed me 2 ripe avocados and said “my wife is pregnant too, it’s ok.”
And to close, shout out to Pope Francis whose words in 'Joy of the Gospel' are not only changing and inspiring me, but people all over the world in cool, crazy, and challenging ways:
Smell Like the Sheep
More Quick Takes at This Ain't the Lyceum.