For the past 5 ½ years I have had the deep privilege of living in Kolkata, and being woven into the Sari Bari community. There are not words to describe what an honor this has been, or how much this place, and these people have changed me for the better. It is not possible to explain how deeply the women of Sari Bari have impacted me, how they have stirred my heart, what a treasure it is to know their hearts, to witness their courage, to journey with them as they understand Hope, Joy, and Restoration. At so many points along the way, they have reached back their hands, to grasp mine, and invited me along to journey with them, to know love and loss, joy and sorrow, celebration and grief in powerful, soul crushing, life-giving and deeply transformative ways. This community, this place, these men and women have given me an indescribable gift, and I will never be the same because of their faith, hospitality, hope, and strength. My life will never be the same for having walked a few miles alongside my heroes.
And now, it seems that it is time for me to leave this place, and these people. And I know that it is right and good and true for me to leave Sari Bari. And I cannot imagine leaving. How can this possibly be right?! Except that it is. You see, on what seemed to be an ordinary day in Sept 2013, I was standing on the verandah of Sari Bari, the most amazing man waltzed into my life (his name is Rishi). And I had no idea. I thought I would never see him again, but as it turns out, he is a kindred spirit. Eventually he asked me to fly kites with him, and I said “yes.” And I slowly began to know and be known, and we both discovered a partner. We began to share our hearts, our perspectives, our passions, joys, and sorrows, and slowly we realized that we are better together than we are apart, and even more slowly we realized that we wanted to be together, and we could be together. And then one day, (July 30th, to be exact) he asked me if I would take the greatest adventure and share the rest of my life with him. And I said, “yes!”
Rishi is an officer in the US Foreign Service, and at the end of May he finished his tour in Kolkata, and was assigned to Port Au Prince, Haiti. He is currently in Washington, DC, preparing for his time in Port Au Prince. In January I will join him there, we’ll get married, and in April we will move to Haiti together. A life of partnership, and adventure waits.
When I first learned of Sari Bari, I remember thinking that I had found “my people.” Folks who saw the world, and the story of Redemption in the same way I did. And that remains true. I am deeply thankful to Sari Bari, and similar communities around the world, and to the community of Freedom Businesses in Kolkata , for being “my people.” I have been encouraged by their honesty, struggle, and faithfulness, and by ways they are living, and loving those around them. Their authenticity in how they live, and how they see the world, created a safe space for me to be who I was, and to become who I am becoming.
A deep thanks is nowhere near enough to offer to those of you who have prayed for me, who have financially supported me, to those of you who have asked me “how are you?” and then waited around for my sometimes incoherent, rambling answer. But “Thank you” is what I have to offer right now, so “Thank you” to those of you who have been with me in the midst of questions that I could not answer, struggle that I could not have imagined, and joy, hope and community that I could not have conceived of.
To my city of Joy, I love you. I love you in the truest sense. You have shown me your weaknesses, and your ugliest parts, your injustice, fear and hate. You have shown me your beauty, your color, your hospitality, courage, life, love, joy and redemption. Thank you for welcoming this global vagabond, for letting me know you, for transforming me, and helping me become a better version of myself.
May you go out in Joy and be led forth in Peace.
With deep love,
A few “business” items…
· My last day in Kolkata will be Jan 5, 2016. (I LOVE Christmas in Kolkata, and just had to squeeze out one more!)