the final say.

for all the abuse, all the anger, all the crisis of faith, questions, and brokenness, death, and depression…
i sit here tonight, four days before i depart this country…thankful…so incredibly thankful.

i am a woman aware.  i’d not be where i am today had i not experienced all that this cup had offered me…

i sit in awe at the love i have received, and the love i have learned resides within.

my own dark heart revealed and saved.

kolkata has been to me a mirror, a black hole, a cup of suffering and celebration. i have held and toasted and drank…

i have learned how to cry here,  how to bury ones i didn’t know how to live without… how to give news to those i’d never want to hurt…i’ve heard thousands of stories, a majority of which may never be repeated, and i hold each one as a treasure, as my pearl of great price. the women of sari bari are lodged in my chest, never to be removed. they have saved me, they have revived me, they have cut my heart in pieces, and they have taught me what love can mean, what sisterhood can mean, what little power language barriers have when trust is involved…

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i carry shards of my community within..memories, wounds, and the gift of being known.  i understand grace because of them, i understand my effect on others and who i am more deeply because of those who have walked so closely with me. you know who you are…we have walked together, in gut wrenching cries, in hours of communion within the BK Paul Kitchen, in veranda dreamings, we have protected one another, and fallen apart…and i will never be the same because of it.

I fell in love here.

and my heart will not possibly be the same.

oh kolkata. how you have grown this heart of mine, in the smallest crevices and cracks green has taken root, surely only God would know that the cemented could give way to gardens…

and to the men of this city…perhaps you have robbed, and cheated, and disrespected. but not every time…and for the times it has been, i offer my forgiveness. and for those who have offered respect…may you know what even a seed of respect can bloom into…

and to my sisters…in brothels just a few alleys down…i do not forget my times with you. nor the reason i took up this fight.  may my feet not rest till many more of you know the taste of freedom, value, and safety…may someday, when all is said and done, you know that someone cried for you, thought of you, spoke your name in love, and drempt of you. may you know you are not alone in this world that seems so one sided and unfair.

i first came to kolkata in 2004 because i wanted to be among those who had the hardest time believing God was good….and i’ve realized that is not why i came at all…

to my family at Sari Bari…thank you for showing me that the God i followed here exists…sometimes in deafening silence, sometimes in painful restraint, but yes also in goodness, and hope, grace, and love…

you have allowed me into your stories, your fears, your homes…you have literally clothed me in gold these last few days…and yet it is only a dim reflection of how you have clothed my spirit, and my journey…

as i say goodbye to the place i have made home for the last seven years….i see, as i have always, that the celebration and the mourning are bound together….a richness we were created to live in.  may none of us  turn back from either, nor cheat others out of knowing how their impressions have left our lives…

kolkata, i raise my glass to you…my lungs may be black, but my heart has been refined…full of light…and i will never be the same.

May the God of all grace, the lifter of our heads, the hearer of our curse filled prayers go before and behind us all, and above all, may love have yet the final say.

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