Eighteen Inches – A Voyage of Discovery

The essence of the rose is known only to folks that turn out to be roses.” Tibetan Buddhist

While residing in Washington, DC, I heard about a homeless women’s haven run by Carmelite nuns. I changed into acquainted with this Roman Catholic order from my preceding foreign provider mission to Kenya. At that time, I took a vacation to visit an American lay couple dwelling in a far-flung backwater, alongside a winding river, deep inner a dense tropical wooded area-some distance from the nice highlands of Nairobi.

Africa Early 1960s – When Exotica Beat Robotica

The three boatmen in my small motorized craft belonged to the East African Luo tribe. The helmsman had a deep baritone voice, a shiny black face, and a grin that showcased pointy white enamel, which he robotically sharpened along with his razor-edged black-handled warrior knife. As with counterpoint name and response of conventional Blues, each couple of minutes, the helmsman belted out an area to sign our technique along the river in which every other opera big name in a few distant parts of the jungle picked up the message and sang it ahead, all to the beat of drums and the strings of the Nyatiti. It became 1962. It became the jungle net before the virtual net and plenty more individuals!


The Carmelites

With sufficient information of my arrival throughout the jungle telegraph, missionaries Edward and Teresa were equipped to welcome me to their at ease bungalow. Surrounded by a sea of tropical plants and amazing vegetation, a separate lecture room stood at the back of the house, with an open bath close by. A refuge for primates and different small animals, I quickly found myself showering in full view of a vociferous troop of colobus monkeys. With their constant chatter and finger-pointing, it became like being naked on the Improv.

A younger Friar changed into traveling the missionaries, and together, we feasted on the roasted bird, yams, nearby green veggies and freshly baked bread, and cinnamon carrot cake. Thanks to an electric generator, Teresa served bloodless lemonade. Edward performed piano, the Friar had a fine tenor voice, and all of us enjoyed Simon and Garfunkel’s latest hits. Since Edward and Teresa had been each nurse the following day, I met some local people who wandered in for medical attention. Their youngsters came to examine English and Bible Studies. I had traveled a brilliant distance in a foreign land to have an American enjoy!

Fast Forward – 1980s Washington, D.C.

The District of Columbia has one of the highest homeless prices in us of a. Each day as the sunset on a number of the meanest streets of the state’s capital, scores of homeless ladies covered up on the D.C. Carmelite refuge. Women of every age, background, and degrading tiers of destitution were welcomed for supper and an easy, safe area to sleep. Under intense stress levels, the younger nuns who ran the haven have been physically strong, mentally tough, and compassionate. Usually a more contemplative order, sisters Margaret and Evangeline were excessive-spirited jokesters and unceasingly satisfied. I wanted to know what became the name of the game to that happiness. They had been residing the Buddhist teaching so regularly quoted by using Joseph Campbell: “completely satisfied participation within the sorrows of the arena.” I desired to experience that equal joy.

The Lady’s Not For Burning

When I volunteered my offerings, sister Margaret gave me the venture of interviewing each arrival and finishing a short written profile. One aged girl arrived clinging to all her possessions, including more than one layer of grimy clothes and the lice in her hair. She said her call turned into Alice. I don’t forget thinking she turned into about the identical age as my very own mother. When I informed her she needed to relinquish all her clothes, she panicked, flew at me with long, grimy fingernails and a movement of expletives. When she tried to run away screaming, “do not burn me, do not burn me,” both nuns stuck her, pulled off her garments, and threw them into an incinerator.

After delousing and a haircut, they scrubbed Alice underneath a steaming hot shower, which she loudly resisted to the cease. Finally, after a nourishing meal and easy bed, Alice settled down. When I carried out petroleum jelly over her chapped face and peeling lips, she whispered, “Ah, this night, I’m off the streets. Who the hell are you?”


Obviously, Alice had mental troubles, and I in no way saw her again. But I lower back often to that shelter to wash windows, mop floors, and do whatever the nuns asked of me. In my “actual lifestyles,” I had a first-rate task. But volunteering on the refuge opened my coronary heart.

Getting High On The Self – “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

In subsequent years I volunteered at diverse soup kitchens and homeless shelters. I taught meditation to veterans with PTSD. After retiring to my gift location, I discovered a slender strip of land sandwiched between upscale Florida retirees and the beach fronts of billionaires. This region was occupied by way of poor elderly black human beings without support from Catholic and Jewish charities that delivered their food.

Invisible to the affluent global around them, housebound folks inhabited a ramshackle rabbit warren of tiny one-room dwellings that appeared lots of places I’d encountered in much less advanced nations. I had to stroll rickety wood planks to get from the road to their homes. Some seniors had been blind; others are deaf. Often they’d like no family. Their mindset turned into gratitude. They appeared every day as a blessing, and they never complained. They loved an excellent funny story, a pleasant chat.


They had been joyful, grateful citizens left out by the wealthiest society on the earth, besides the charities that cared for them. While hopping on and stale the one’s minivans with hot food and a warm good day, I become rewarded tenfold with the aid of the natural love they contemplated returned to me—a Washington, D.C. Homeless safe-haven; a south Florida monetary backwater. I had traveled a brief distance in my own us of a to have a Third World experience! Yet utilizing focussing my attention away from my very own ‘small self,’ I experienced a excessive herbal.

At this time in human history, there’s an extraordinary abundance of wealth within the wallet of a few. Donating to a favorite charity is constantly appreciated. Seeing the Self in others is the Grace that connects us to our very own Divinity. The 18 inches from the head to the coronary heart is the most gratifying voyage of discovery a human being can make.

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