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The Puppy and the Paper Doll

Click here for audio version 1
Click here for audio version 2

Granny: So, did you say, Go ahead and eat your dream?
Annie: She laughed, and corrected me; No! It wasn’t a dream and I can’t eat it! I actually wrote the story.
Granny: Oh, you wrote a story?

Annie: Yeah. Granny: Cool! Can you tell me?
Annie: Yeah, okay, so its title is The Puppy Who got Peace.
Granny: Peace? A puppy got peace?
Annie: Yeah
Granny: Okay

With a big breath, my granddaughter verbally exploded as she embarked on her story, sweeping me down the current that cascaded out of her mouth …

Annie: So, there is a puppy, who was in the park, and he was abandoned, and he had lots and lots of cuts and bruises like he was kicked from houses. So, a girl whose name was Rani came with her parents to the park and saw this puppy. So, then she asked her parents, “Can I keep this puppy? Because if I don’t clean it up, it’ll just die, because it has too many cuts and bruises.”

So, she took it home and cleaned all the bruises up and took good care of it. So then, a couple days later, the puppy went missing. So, she put up lots of notices, but no one could find him. Two weeks later she was going to put up a couple more notices when she saw him in the park, abandoned again, the same as he was before. So, she picked him up and took great care of him again. And she never let him out of his set her sight again.

Granny: Never?
Annie: Never.

Granny: Then what happened?
Annie: So, what I get from this story is that… that’s how we are. It’s like we’re away from God, and then in sad times we go to God and He picks us up and gives us hope. But then others pick us up and carry us off to the wrong path, and we get abandoned once again. And then, we need God again so we go to him again. And because we learned from our past, we don’t make the same mistake again and God gives us a home.”
Granny: Wow! that’s amazing. So how did you think of this story?
Annie: I just got inspired when we were going to Dehradun. I was in the car, and I saw this street dog. It was a puppy, a small one, and it was just like this puppy was —abandoned with cuts and bruises.
Granny: Ah, so it really happened?
Annie: Yeah!
Granny: That’s really a nice story. You know Annie, I lost my mother in a tragic way, and an enormous, empty hole was left in my life.
Annie: Wow. I can’t imagine that.
Granny: There was no one to talk to. No one to I share my deepest secrets with. There was no one to understand and console my pain and grief… I lay in the depth of “me”. Not a particularly healthy mind space.
Shall I tell you my remedy?
Annie: Sure.

Granny: I drew a little person on a piece of paper. She lived in my pocket. I pulled her out when I needed a friend (in school or anywhere else…) but always and only in a private spot. I’d Look at her and talk to her. She understood the privacy and secretiveness of our relationship. Nobody knew about her or my darkness.

When I grew older and more mature, my paper doll that I’d kept in my pocket was no longer there. But the feeling of loneliness and daytime-darkness hadn’t gone away. Instead, I kept my little friend in my mind. She never left and was safely invisible to others. The truth is, I still meet her, even though I’m a granny. My friend is still there when I call. I can see her. She appears like a silhouette. But I see who she is—she’s me, a dancer. She dances. And when she dances, my own reflection dances. She comes in handy when I lack hope, when despair creeps up on me, or when circumstances say I won’t make it through this one…

I know I’m more than my body and more than life’s situations. I live in the unseen spirit. I soak in the overflow. I’m never alone. I don’t exist to live, but am resuscitated, rejuvenated, full of hope and expectation; that’s my dance. God inside me is the choreographer — with greater purposes than just good dance steps! Even the dance is in the unseen. But God sees me dancing, and I’m his puppy who got peace.

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Me, Suicide and God

Ashu’s story was unimaginable, but sadly true; a type of Cinder-fella story. After two weeks of procrastination, he finally showed up at my house to tell me his story. Now I understand why it took him so long to come; it was a matter of courage —facing the truth. As he unfolded his life, he was once again confronted by his family, the battle scars opened again, the anger and the unanswerable questions were rebirthed. But at the end I heard a story he had never told. Now I stood with him like a friend, a witness who shared his secrets, his private life. At last, he finished and reclined on the couch; “I feel so light.” That was the final line of his story.

I was glad he told me his story, but now he’s opened up and shares his own stories. He enjoys writing his thoughts and recently commented that he’d never written a poem. So here it is; a poem. Perhaps better categorized as a thought poem.

The poem describes one of the lowest times of his life; and there were many of them. Perhaps this was the climax —the end result of so many lows. Again, and again, he’d climb the stairs to reach the third floor; from there he’d look down and wonder if he’d ever have the courage to die… or, ever have the courage to live?

Ashu’s poem title is accurate: Me (first) Suicide (in the middle) and God (last). His me first attitude and God last, led to the horrible middle section: suicide. Ashu’s right; suicide becomes an easy compromise. It’s an appropriate warning; who has first place? Listen deeply. The following, in italics, is from Ashu. His thoughts are quite loud. It’s Ashu’s heart; his poem; his story —told by Ashu.

This poem is about a thought…

A though that everyone of us go through at least once in our life.
This thought comes to all of us, rich or poor, strong or weak, black or white, you and me. And this is how I dealt with it, when it came my way!!!

Click here for Ashu’s recitation below: Me, Suicide and God

ME, SUICIDE AND GOD

I believe this all happened when I was about to complete my twelfth grade. I remember complaining about it all as it did not feel like a fair trade.

It was because I was hiding and carrying so much that I was afraid to have a raid. I did not talk to anyone about what I was going through as I feared I might just get betrayed.

It was never that I did not have people around me who were trustworthy.

But the main reason was that the Devil convinced me to believe that my life was not worthy.

I remember I went so deep into those beliefs that I forgot to even ask myself “Am I being deceived?”

I remember going, three months in a row to a roof, and looking down from there, and feeling that I was being seized.

By now the very word suicide made me feel like I was being teased and by the time I realised what was happening it had turned into a dreadful disease.

I remember all my physical pain, mental strain, abusive past, and spiritual drain Came down on and in me like a disastrous thunderstorm and acid rain.

But despite all the dark and suicidal thoughts I had, there was always a second deep voice in me that was full of love and said ” son just get on your knees”.

So, to be honest I did take some more time before I got on my knees. And then I made a loud cry still keeping in mind that no one should be nearby. And then I said those magic words “God, please”.

To this plead God took no time and guaranteed. And said, as long as you believe that you have a heavenly Father you are no longer gonna’ feel that you are frozen and seized.

I started to do what God wanted me to, but many a time I still hesitated.

And that’s when all the negative thoughts came in and made me think ” I was better off separated.”

And then I would restart and ask God ” how do I relate?” And to this God said, son, I am proud of you and I might just end up giving you a degree in spiritual debate.

And when I was still in a debate, I asked a question “God what about my dark and painful background?”.

And on hearing this he said, “son I am the best Painter and I know how to use the darkest background to set off the most amazing foreground.”

And then he went on and said what I’m giving you is not just imparting information. But that and a new transformation. And to all that God has promised me, I today testify that he has changed all my bitterness into victory.

And now even when I walk into a cloudy day. I try my best to listen and sing to God as I wend my way.
Love you, Jesus!!!

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The Magnificent Ship

I wonder, India, how are you doing in the midst of so much pain and big loss? Children who hadn’t known death, are now stabbed and crippled in pain. India, your magnificent ship is barely floating. I wish to throw you a life jacket… grab hold and hang on.

Click here for song.

Written during May, 2021
Sadness, grief and tears;
India Covid crisis

Is God good? Can it be? Is God love? Help me see!
People cry out; oh, God, where is your love?

People weep and grieve; oh God look down and see! Your land, India, lies wasted and in great need.

Sorrow’s flood, pools of tears turn land to swamp People cry out; oh, God where is your love? People cry out, Oh God, tell us where is love?

Your land, India, lies wasted and in great need.

Jesus came as your son, to be hope when there is none
Jesus came to be light when day dawns as dark as night;

To cast fear out of love
To free our hearts for life
Your son died to give life
He gave purpose to die
So, cry India …declare God is love!

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves.
When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning,
with wreckage all around you.
Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty
and the magnificence of the ship that was,
and is no more.
And all you can do is float.

~the Loss Foundation~

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Hope on Flower Mountain

click here for narrative

Flower mountain. That’s the name of the drawing. The mountain is big… a bit scary.

It stands in front if our house… our family…our friends… our life. God loves to shake mountains…. We can see flower mountain when we see God’s love. Is there a mountain in front of you?

There’s a mountain in my path.
Many people are hurting in India, and across the world.
It’s like, —we need big band aid.
India is hurt. People are hurting.
It’s not Corona —it’s our inability to love, to touch.
Individual circumstances cause grief and take a toll on us.
Survival —a word with a new understanding.
During this time, I’ve faced an unexpected rough stretch.
I was diagnosed with physical disability requiring immediate attention… it was serious. I found myself looking at a mountain. I didn’t see the flowers.
I asked God a lot of questions, because… circumstances created no other way…
I had to trust God. It is a good place to be forced into.
Through pain and grief, we experience that life is short….
But there’s hope. Eternity.
Our perception of what a short life means, is night and day different from God’s.
God is not hard-hearted as some think; he understands grief.
Even Jesus cried with loud cries, like we do, when he faced death.
David Crowder sings “everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”
We stay contentedly in our little box.
Death is kept out of the box…yes, but God understands our fears. 
We put up boundaries and fences to shield us from hurt.
We live in this world… this life.  God lives in eternity.
These are strange, and hard times. It’s a time to focus on what is not seen.
India, how are you doing in the midst of so much pain and big loss?
Your magnificent ship is barely floating.
A quote from “The Loss Foundation;”

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves.
When the ship is first wrecked,
you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you.
Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty
and the magnificence of the ship that was,
and is no more.
And all you can do is float.

Can you see beauty on your mountain? It’s there.
The Spirit of the Lord comforts all who mourn;
Gives them beauty instead of ashes,
The oil of joy instead of mourning
A garment of praise instead of a heavy, burdened and failing spirit…”
Is. 61: 1-3

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Touch the Feet

At the last curtain call, long applause resounded and the annual school program came to an end. Former students faithfully came to catch a glimpse of the old days, appreciating the feeling of welcome to the school where they grew up and learned life. A young man suddenly charged towards me but stopped abruptly in front of me. He pounded his clenched fist to his heart, bowed before me and touched my feet with his fingers; a greeting bursting with love, respect and honor. Of course, it’s Indian tradition, and doesn’t always carry those wonderful tones, but when it comes from the heart it’s as good as the best hug ever.

Touching feet is significant. The one who first taught touching feet did so as a lesson to his disciples. He took off his cumbersome garments as a servant would, kneeled down in front of each of them and washed their feet. In the previous story I mentioned the little girls who touched my feet; they scoured my feet like pots and pans. My little friend, Budwara, “touched my feet” whenever she looked at me; it wasn’t just physical touch; the love and respect shining from her eyes was as good as touching my feet. Washing feet only comes from a servant heart. Clearly, transparency is where love is. Why would God touch our dirty feet?

Click to play this song.

Touch the feet for you are made from dust and you know that the one who walked in dirt, has His thrown on holy ground, so, touch the feet.

I touch the feet I feel the flesh of him whose tears and blood are mixed to become wine for me, through his sweat I touch his feet.

Touch the feet of Christ, wipe the stain from him who died, standing up unashamed, stripped of pride it remains; to touch the feet.

Lord how can I come into your presence now? Lord how can I walk through gates of splendour now?

I by your great mercy come into your house, in reverence and adoration I bow before you now.

Touch the feet for you are made from dust.

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Wednesday Changed my Life

Every dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion
to reach for the stars to change the world.
Harriet Tubman

April 1965; I was eleven and informed everyone that I was going to India to start an orphanage. Who’d believe an eleven-year-old child? Those skeptics didn’t stop me from dreaming; they only added coals to the fire.

By April, 1975, I’d been in India for six months. I reclined on my bamboo mat on the strangely comfortable cement roof and gazed at the millions of stars lighting the sky. I mused, “Lovely Moon, however did I get to this unbelievable place in my life?” Though only a sliver, the moon was brilliant, like a beating heart; nothing was around for miles to obscure any of the nightlights­­; a hundred million stars sparkling like tiles as a ceiling to the universe. Stars are riches in rural India —diamonds in the sky. Not every country has such an array. The giant Himalayas stood outlined and glowing against the northern horizon, creating a spectacular backdrop. Lying on my back on my thin, bumpy bamboo mat, left me with inexplicable peace.

Budwara was there beside me, day and night, always waiting for me to come. At night I arrived late; my mat would be rolled out for me and she’d be sitting on her mat spread next to mine. Budwara means Wednesday. Was she born on a Wednesday? So much mystery hid behind her shy giggling face… why was she left at a children’s home? What deep hurts lie buried inside, invisibly warring against her?  The children were so hungry for touch; deeply hungry for love.

There was no electricity for fans or lights. During the hot summers, the rooms were stifling hot and buzzed merrily with mosquitos —totally unbearable. Thus, I with all the girls marched to the roof, hoping to catch the draft of a cooler breeze and ride on it into sleep.  But I was mesmerized by the stars.

Daily chores became routine, as did the trip for baths. I’d herd the barefoot girls down the village road, thick with soft filmy dust. Each step brought up swirling brown clouds which slowly thickened on us as we made the two-kilometer walk.

Unfortunately, the same thing happened after our bath on the way back. Our bathtub was the village canal where buffaloes and oxen bathed; animals were washed slightly downstream while we bathed in our clothes, upstream. Even our drinking water came from downstream. The oxen were driven into the water with two large oil drums on the back of the rickety, ancient looking wooden cart with large wooden wheels. Those two drums were slowly filled by bucket and the water was used for drinking, cooking, and everything else; it served one hundred children and a dozen staff and was never enough.

Leaving the compound was a-looked-forward-to event by all. As we walked down the road, each of my fingers were grabbed (holding hands with only one child at a time just wasn’t considered fair). After reaching the canal the girls would excitedly jump in and splash. I’d sit on the edge and dangle my feet in the water. Then a water fight ensued; who would be the lucky girl to wash my toes? With a crowd of wet little girls at my feet, the scrubbing began. Roughly, thoroughly and lovingly my toes, the soles of my feet, the sides of my feet, my ankles were scoured as though I was a pot or pan. It was a heavenly massage and ridded my feet of dead, dried skin. The dirtiest part of my body was not begrudged by the girls in any way; they had no hesitation in showing kindness and love. They wanted to touch me and they wanted to be touched.

The children’s home stood on a dry riverbed; rocks and stones —and yes, “dry riverbed” aptly described me. My idyllic childhood dream of serving orphans was not quite what I’d anticipated. I understood dry riverbed for it described my spirit; it also described the children who were thirsty for love. I was no heroine. I needed the kids more than they needed me. Could I really make any difference at all? Something deep inside was persuading me to stay. I was not even close to being ready to leave. What I could achieve seemed insignificant, but I just couldn’t walk away.

In India, respect is traditionally shown by formally bowing down to touch someone’s feet. The girls touched my feet and washed them in the canal. Budwara touched my feet whenever she looked at me. I clearly saw the love and respect shining from her eyes. My childhood dream of going to India became reality; but not in the way I’d imagined it. The fluffy, dreamy visions of working with sweet orphans was now a hard, difficult reality. And not only that, the conditions, and the heat and humidity of the seasons took a heavy toll on me.

Every dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

Harriet Tubman was right about reaching for those beautiful stars to change the world; except the world remains the same —it was I who was changed. Gazing at the stars showed me that God was in this, though I couldn’t understand where he was. God was somewhere near; I determined to find him. I’d found children —but God? Wednesday —Budwara, changed my life. Living alongside children drew me closer to truth. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me….” The closer I got to the children, the closer I was drawn to God; my dream began to have meaning.

Tears drop like stars falling from the sky.
Night closes upon the darkness I feel in my soul
My spirit yearns and cries out for God.

Tears are meaningless in the largeness of earth
It’s magnitude and enormity and terrible, fearful nature
Humble me in the vastness of galaxies upon galaxies.

I am lost and alone and seeking an answer
From God, who meets me alone;
In a quiet and secret place where rivers run dry.

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Answers to some Questions & Questions for some Answers

A lizard grows its tail again when severed in the door.

Axolotl grows xerox copies of missing brain parts.

Deer grows new antlers every year (to be in style?).

Babies grow into men and women.

God makes something from nothing.

Who has the answers of the universe?

Who has the questions?

If a wolf can cry, can a rock sing?

Why can’t we be born again?

What if there were no birds?

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Grandma’s on the Family Tree

दादी Abuela おばあちゃん Granny

My Grandma is as sweet as a pie
As calm as a lalabai
As wise as an owl
As loving as a mama bird
As soothing as a warm towel
Grandma
Grandma
I wish I were like you
Oh! But I am!
I am your lamb.
Take me with you ma’am
I will follow you.
—written by one sweet granddaughter—

My Dadiji

(Grandmother)

She was so pleased when we accepted her invitation to come for lunch; she couldn’t hide her pleasure and was beside herself with happiness. Now she was fussing over the dinner table, laid with her best ancient cracked china and glasses. As soon as she heard us enter, she looked up expectantly. Her bent form hurriedly shuffled forward and she stretched very long, nearly out of proportion arms upwards to wrap around us. Contrary to her child-like enthusiastic spirit, was her face; a deep well, full of years and full of memories. Each wrinkle carried a different story, and every unwrinkled story was full of wisdom that somewhere, sometime, found a platform to be shared. We loved it when she used us as her platform. Her stories were extraordinary, nearly unbelievable; full of faith. We all have amazing Grandmas, but my Dadi was one of a kind.

How many Grandmas hitch-hiked through Nazi Germany and Europe in 1938? Mine did. How many retired 60-year-old Grandmas (after becoming widowed) travelled alone by ship to India to serve the needy? Mine did. She told us, “I retired; I put on new tires to go further.” How many Grandma’s prayed continuously for the safety and protection of their children and grandchildren? Mine, yours, and nearly all. That is a grandma’s heart.

My Dadi’s appearance suggested she had reached one hundred years old, but outwardly she hadn’t changed greatly over the past ten or twenty years. Dadi loved teasing her young eighty-year-old friends, by calling them “spring chickens” and boasted to them about her many years, cleverly withholding the figures of her exact age. That was her secret. We knew assuredly that she wanted to live to one hundred and looked forward to it with childlike glee. There would have been one very old, very proud, jubilant lady… had that day arrived.

During this strange season of distancing, depression and aloneness, social media has found its purpose. Shower grandma with love. Even Grandmothers who refuse to be techy have smart and cunning grandkids who figure out ways to reach out to them. Marvels of the digital world never cease. We are united even in virtual suffering… May, 2021.

by the way…
Grandmas thrive on their grandchildren,
because their grandchildren are the best.

Grandmas’ Fridge

Grandma’s door

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Come Away with Me

I echo a cry.
God is a romantic who yearns for our kiss
and thrives on relationship.
Take your eyes off the chaos.

Come Away with Me

Click here for song – Come Away with Me



He breaks down barriers, He crumples the walls

He makes the way open giving justice to all.

He’s the God of justice, the God who sheds tears

At crime and darkness which evil brings in.

He’s the crying Lord and with painful compassion

Keeps tears in His wineskin for healing the nations.

He repays with punishment the sins of the world,

But with hugs and embraces the sinner He kisses!

Father of love, from whom we are born,

God of creation, of wonder, of storm

Father of love, in whom I am found,

Extravagant forgiver, with love I am bound!

Kiss the Son, my love, kiss the Son, my king.

May the wine flow gently from His lips to those asleep.


I belong to my lover; His desire is for me

Come, my lover, come away with me.



Composer: Frieda McRae
With Dr. Sydney Thyle
Sonu Kumar
Dr. Michael Sethi

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India Cry – May 2021

I love to write stories, but my heart is heavy and goes out to India; the lost and the suffering.
I grieve with you, India.

Our land is crying; smothered with heavy darkness.
Millions of tears create a cascading waterfall; the land becomes a swamp.
How long, you who made us, do we live in fear?
Father of love, do not turn from us as we turned from you and blamed you,
but look from heaven and see us stagger in our sorrow.

We treat our Maker disgracefully; our thoughts are darkened…
We argue and demand from you, who are God.
We admit you are God; you see our sadness,
Weeping with us as our emotions go out of control.
You allow us to be mad, but desire a sacrifice of praise.

You steadfastly remain the cohesive force we hang on to, lest we be torn apart.

You catch us if we stumble and will not fling us aside;

You separate us from our sins; as far as the east is from the west and patiently love and dearly prize the world.

You gave your own son; you know loss.  

The world rages and chaos triumphs —only briefly;

Your plan; eternal life.