Monday, 7 November 2011

a prayer

We walked in through the gate into the large low compound.  Dark stone walls surrounded us as we moved through the spacious grassy main square.

We were a largish group - 20 odd people - like any other group who come to see the history and present service of the Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission.

Our tour guide had already taken one large group around the premises in the morning.  Now here we were in the heat of the afternoon - wanting to be taken around too.  A short negotiation had just transpired. We agreed on being taken to the chapel and to where the blind ladies were - and finally a quick look at Ramabai's room.  Nothing more - nothing less.

The huge wooden-floored chapel dwarfed our group of men and women.  Teak from Burma.  Ramabai's visions and prayers.  We heard our guide speak of times past with the solid stones and soaring pillars around us.

I wondered if our guide knew that almost every person in our group was HIV positive.

We were with the 'married couples group' of our JSK Positive Friends Family Bible Camp.  As we walked through the campus - the casual observer would never know what lurked in my friends bodies - or the terrible pain that each couple has experienced over the years.

And then the magical moment came.

We were ushered into a low barrack like room.  4 old ladies were squatting on the floor making chappatis - rolling out the perfect round shapes - tossing them onto hot skillets - putting them into waiting vessels.

Nothing strange.  Being in rural Maharashtra the scene could be anywhere.

But for one fact.

Each of the ladies was blind.  Blind from birth.

Our group was stunned. 

We talked to these dear ladies and they blessed us with their kind words.  One of our group asked if he could pray for them.  His Marathi rung out over the kitchen as the blind saints flipped their chappatis - in the darkness of their mind - in the bright light of their spirit.

Then the oldest one asked if she could pray for us.

The wizened lady's voice - her hand upheld in blessing - was that of an angel. 

Tears came freely from all of us. 

As I look back - from the perspective of a month after that amazing camp we had in early October - this incident shines like a jewel. 

Each person in our group has locked the gift of the prayer by the blind saint into their heart.  In a life of HIV a light has shone.  These are souvenirs worth far more than their weight in gold.

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