Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace. The war is
actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to
our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the
field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What
would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased
at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not
what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me
20 May 2008
My youngest brother - the one who is not Sikh, but whom I still love so much - has been visiting for the last week. He has been going with me on my daily walks while he is here. I enjoy his company, but in its own way, I miss the solitude and my usual practice of naam-jap on these walks. Usually some tune comes in my head and I sing softly as I walk, or occasionally bit louder, drawing amused glances from our neighbourhood Sikhs and bemused glances from everyone else.
Today, I choose something different, a little different. I set my eyes on seeing Vaheguru in everything around me. Some of it was easy. some more difficult. So here is my walk.
As I start:
I see the huge blossoming rhododendron bush in full bloom and I say: 'Vaheguru.'
I see the white clouds in the clearing sky and I say 'Vaheguru.'
I hear a cawing crow somewhere above me and I say 'Vaheguru.'
I smell somebody's new-mowed lawn and I say 'Vaheguru.'
I pass an elderly Sikh neighbour lady dressed in an orange-flowered salwar kameez, a black jacket and a lovely, flowing chunni,walking home from her shopping. I greet her, 'Vaheguru ji ka khalsa, Vaheguru ji ki fateh!' Her wizened brown face breaks into a huge smile as she returns my greeting and I say, 'Vaheguru!'
I see and hear the children shooting hoops, including the young boy with the strange white patka that barely covers his jura and suppress the urge to fix it before it falls off as he jumps around and I laugh, 'Vaheguru.'
I see the crazy Hungarian lady - the one who hears cockpit conversations as airplanes fly over her rooftop - working in her yard and I wave as I walk by and I say, 'Vaheguru."
I see the Muslim family down the block all dressed up going somewhere together and I smile and say Vaheguru.
I come to my favourite tree, the mock crab apple. heavy with blossoms and I stop under it and look up for a moment; a breeze comes up and the flowers fall onto me and I say 'Vaheguru.'
I come to the point where it is time for me to turn around to head home and in front of me I see towering over everything, majestic Mt. Rainier, a sight to impress the most jaded among us and I exclaim, Vaheguru!
All that is really, really easy, but there is more to observe that is not so easy.
I look at the decomposing litter in the gutter by the side of the road and I say 'Vaheguru.'
I cough as a diesel truck drives by spewing exhaust and I say 'Vaheguru.
I see the dead opossum lying by the roadside and make a mental note to call animal control
when I get home and I say 'Vaheguru.
I stumble over a crack in the sidewalk and I say 'Vaheguru.'
I see a garbage can at the roadside, waiting the garbage men to come empty it - in fact I see many - and I say "Vaheguru.'
And as I pass a last rhody bush in our front yard and turn up our driveway to enter our house, congratulating myself on an altogether successful walk, I am challenged. Across the street, I see our neighbour - the one I look straight through, the one whose existence I refuse to acknowledge, the one I've nicknamed 'the Maggot,' the one who tried to rape (that's 'dishonour' to Indians) his 14 year old neighbour girl - and I'm not sure if I pass the test as I kind of choke out 'Vaheguru.'
So that is the summary of my walk. And what an egotistical post this is. I count the word 'I' 53 times. Oh, well, it would be even more egotistical to expect anything like perfection from myself now, I (54) suppose.