Day 17 Hesitation

Day 17  Hesitation

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” Rabindranath Tagore

     My word for my time in India is “hesitation.” The first place I lived was an apartment building. To go out to the market I had to walk down the steps to the street. That meant I had to step over the homeless sleeping on the stairs.  I never knew if the person I stepped over had died. I only knew they were miserable.

     So I hesitated and took a deep breath before I went outside. I wish I could say that I thought deep thoughts or felt compassion for those I encountered. But I was not brave. I hesitated every time I had to do anything that would expose me to wall to wall poverty.

     I spent a lot of time hesitating before I acted.

     But I did act.  The bravest thing I did was not mercy or compassion but acting in spite of my continual hesitations. I wish I could brag that I eventually learned to move with ease. But when I left India, I have to say that hesitation remained my mode.

     When I returned to India to live for the second time, something happened to me. I overcame my hesitation to engage deeply with the people. I think that in my journey I needed to come to terms with overwhelming impoverishment, wretchedness, and miserableness before I could be a loving person.

     Tagore, the great Hindu philosopher, described the journey. “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” It took me a long time but I travel a different world because I crossed the sea.

     This Lent, may we all take the journey we find ourselves own and not withdraw into the journey we think that braver people walk.


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