Tuesday, September 11, 2012

If the Buddha Dated... Or Went to Congo

I’m working through the book “If the Buddha Dated,” by CharlotteKasl, for therapy.  Its pitch is that it’s a handbook for finding love on a spiritual path.  Not just romantic love, but all love, to let go of all that might be blocking one from loving authentically, loving others, and loving oneself.  I say “working” through it, as I’m taking my time, journalling about what strikes me, and meditating on the questions it raises, to better understand my journey.

Except this morning.  As I began to journal in response to the chapter, “Stay Loyal to Your Journey,” I was distracted by my own deadline to write a blog post for ActionKivu, about the unfolding of Ernata’s story.  My Action Kivu partner Cate and I met Ernata when we visited Congo in January of 2012, and her generous spirit, smile and heart-wrenching story left a lasting impression on us.  Reading her update, about how her training through the Sewing Workshop has changed her life, her marriage, and her outlook on the future, I was in tears once again.  It felt selfish to take an hour to meditate on my own issues, to identify where I disconnect from my own essence, where I have been conditioned and taught to please others in order to be noticed and to be loved. 

But. That meditation time is essential to my well-being, to sharing love with others, and being a genuine presence in this world.  What frustrates me is not the ego it would represent to take that time to delve into my own life, as it is actually doing the work to disconnect from that ego, but the fact that women like Ernata don’t have the luxury of time to reflect and observe.  Constantly worried and working for each day’s survival, the space to allow imagination to run free, to create, is most often denied these women and children. 

I remember, in our group photo with the 2012 graduating class of the Mumosho Sewing Workshop, one woman’s hands in my hair, feeling the physical difference between us, while Ernata’s fingers gripped mine tightly.  She had just shared her story with us, and our shared emotion broke down any of those physical differences. Her story resonates with me as a sister, worried for women who are not allowed to find their voice and share their truth.  



In honor of Ernata, please read her stories (links below), and pay attention.  Pay attention to the Congo, read the latest on the conflict from Human Rights Watch let the world know we are watching and we demand change, and peace.  Pay attention to whatever is holding you back from loving in a pure and real way, outside the ego, and outside self.  Ernata is my touchstone for remembering to honor myself, wherever I am on my journey, and to support and honor others, wherever they are.  

Hope from Mumosho Sewing Workshop: Ernata's story

Eranta's Story Unfolds: Sewing Grads & School Uniforms


Ernata, January 2012. Photo by Cate Haight


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