Game leads to gratitude. . .


Went to a friend's house for lunch today; a small group of ladies we were. Rasa always has a good game to play, this time it was: each one should tell two lies and one true statement about herself, and the others have to guess which one was true. There were lots of fun moments and adventure stories that came out of it, but what I wanted to tell was this:

When it was my turn, I began by saying 'I was abused as a child,' and a couple of ladies laughed. I had another lie, and something true, but when I think back on it, I just feel so lucky and grateful to have had the loving upbringing I had. I don't mean to make light of something that many people have actually suffered, one form or another of abuse. And it's true that many who have gone through such have come through these painful times as powerful, compassionate individuals, due in part to their having had to wrestle with unfortunate situations.

Neither do I mean to imply that life has somehow spared me from suffering—believe me, I've had my share. Who hasn't? The world is more or less guaranteed to put us all to the test, time and time again.

I just want to express here a bit of gratitude for having had loving parents and a stable home environment. It's no small thing. I can't tell you how many times I fell asleep in my mother's bed as she was reading to me, only to be carried, sleeping, to my own bed by my father, who would then sing one or another of his favorite lullabies to me and my sister. Usually it was either 'Old Black Joe' or 'Old Dan Tucker'—one mournful, one funny—what to speak of the books, the discussions around the supper table, going to musicals, the long car rides with all four girls in the back (and my father turning around at times to admonish us, “Consarn you, children, love one another!”).

Two friends of mine have lost their mothers within the past week. One was with her. Another said she felt her mother's presence more strongly the day after her mother died, as if her spirit was finally free of the pain, and of the angst that accompanied it.

My mother died shortly before my 17th birthday; my father fell apart so much that I (as the youngest, the only one still living at home) had to give him a lot of emotional support. I don't think I allowed myself to grieve; there wasn't space for it. So she never got to hear about Krishna or taste Krishna-prasadam (food sanctified by being offered to God before eating). But in some measure, I think that she must get devotional 'credit'; her absence in my life left me lost enough to search beyond the academic and career goals that so many of my peers pursued. I went searching, and eventually wound up at Krishna's feet, satisfied with philosophy, a God-centered lifestyle, and the song and dance that reminds us all of our spiritual home.

Two more things I said today: I once gave some prasadam to Eric Clapton, and when I was about 10 years old, my friends and I set the church woods next door to our house on fire while trying to smoke cigarettes we'd stolen from my parents. Can you guess which one is true?