Monday, October 20, 2008

It's Not Always The Case

Wow. I just received an email from an old friend who gave me the link to her daughter's blog site. I can't remember exactly when we first met but it was approximately 30 years ago. I was a midwife at the birth of one of her children. She was/is a lovely person, very different than me but we were Hare Krsna devotees together and we struck up a friendship. I hadn't seen her in years but she looked me up and we've had a few email exchanges. Her family has been traveling around the world--India, England, Belize, Hawaii, etc. and she's been sending me updates.

Anyway, I clicked on the link to her daughter's blog and I read some of the posts and enjoyed the pictures. What's really interesting to me is how close this family seems to be. The kids are all grown and yet they are doing some extensive family traveling together. And they all seem to be very devout Krsna devotees--many of the pictures on the blog made that obvious, down to the ones of the family sitting together with japa bags hanging from their wrists as they complete their daily prayers. The kids are all embracing this lifestyle and it seems to really work for them. They all look very happy and seem reasonably contended with their lives. When they aren't traveling they live in the country, on an orchard, and are very hard working farmers living a fairly austere and religious lifestyle.

I don't know why I'm so struck by all of this right now but I am. I guess it's just that some people don't seem to change much. I mean, life moves on of course... the kids have grown up and my friend and her husband are older. But otherwise so much seems exactly the same. It's so strikingly different than the course I've chosen for my own life, or the path my children have taken. The father of my four middle children is still a Hare Krsna devotee too, immersed in the lifestyle, obviously for life (or so it seems) but none of my children have taken that route and I'm just pondering on this, the different choices we make that I'm supposing are related to our life's purpose.

I'm reminded of some other old Hare Krsna friends that Jerry and I visited several years back. This woman and her husband were very good friends of mine. She and I shared alot, throughout the ten years of our devotee lives together. Before I moved on. At one point we lived together out in the wilderness with some other folks on some land with gardens and goats where we were hoping to establish a spiritual community. We attended each other's home births and nursed one another's babies. When we weren't living in close proximity to each other we visited frequently even when there were hundreds of miles between us. When my spiritually evolved beyond being a Hare Krsna devotee we parted ways, simply losing track of one another over time.

Then, on a trip home, driving north through southern California after a visit to Sin City (Las Vegas), I thought of these old friends, remembering that they had bought some land and had been living in a community up in the mountains, not far from where we were passing through. I called information, got their phone number and shortly we were on our way for a visit. It had been 17 years since I'd seen them last and I was in for an incredible surprise.

They say that everything changes but it just ain't so. As we sat in their living room I was transported back 25 plus years earlier. Their home was exactly the same. Most devotees (at least the ones I knew back in the day) live very austere lives. The atmosphere of their homes are very simple with no furniture except a book shelf for books written (translated) by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada with a few others on gardening or other practical life skills. In the kitchen, all the cookware and eating utensils are stainless steel and the walls throughout the home are mostly bare, decorated only with a few pictures of Krsna. Religious chants called kirtans are usually playing from a boom box and maybe some incense will be burning on the altar. Deja vue. Not only that, there was a passel of super cute devotee children running all over place and they looked just the same as our little ones did when they were growing up together except the youngest of these were my friends grandchildren rather than their children. Their grown children were around too with their prayer bags covering their hands as they chanted japa. As we drove off after a pleasant visit, I felt like I was driving out of the twilight zone. I could even hear that music playing. (click on You Tube post above)

Wow. I realize that my tendency is to think that as time passes, most people change, just like I have, in a way that is as profound and strikingly obvious as mine but ya know, that just isn't always the case.

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