Thursday, January 26, 2012

All things small and beautiful

It was inspiring to go through the photo gallery of a dear friend Chris who is currently serving in Kenya, after spending a year in a leper community in Ahmedabad. I saw little children in an HIV afflicted community in Nairobi wearing little smile pins and paper flowers with words like Truth, Love and Compassion written on them.These are smile pins and flowers made by the women and children of the slums of Ahmedabad through a program in an NGO called Manav Sadhna in Gandhi Ashram.

As part of his service in Ahmedabad, Chris Lowman spent close to one year volunteering with Manav Sadhna. As he now moves on to another continent, it is interesting to observe what gets carried with him. Invariably it’s the smallest things that you wouldn't really notice while in this environment in the Gandhi Ashram. If you think about your life and what has got you to this point of reading this text, you will realize that the smallest things have also created the greatest transformation in your life. It serves as a reminder to me to never forget their importance, for it is all that matters in the long run.

When I think about scalability and the impact of our work on the larger world I often neglect the simpler things. Perhaps it’s a curse as an intellectual to expect an intelligent idea to solve the world’s problems as opposed to simple, yet consistent thought and action.
Vinobha Bhave said something very beautiful on this matter:

“The work of a people’s revolution always occurs in a single location. It is the wind that carries it far and wide. During the Bhoodan Movement, I always walked, creating local leaders and not a central leadership. In fact it was not even local leadership, but local service.
The Buddha spent his life walking from Prayag to Gaya, speaking only in Pali. All he had were a few thoughts, but he spent his life living in line with these thoughts and they were worthy. That is why they have spread all over the world and are discussed even today.”
As I watch another picture of Chris planting a tree outside the Community Centre in Nairobi, and naming it ‘Rose’, I can’t help but think about a pure thought that is flowing across the world, transforming those who surrender to it.

~ We can do no great things, only small things with great love ~

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