I woke up this morning in the midst of the perfect storm. My trip was put on hold and students were sent home to weather out these two days, so I and another participant made the short trip back to my family home in Brooklyn. My bed is right next to the window, so during my (blissfully long) sleep I kept hearing the window battered by rain and wind and tree branches. My household is also in a bit of uproar; my dad and I are geeking out over weather reports, my mom is cooking, my brother is fooling around, and the girls are trying to get work done, so I’ve retreated back to my little room for some meditative writing.
Karttika is considered to be the darkest month of the year. Maybe it’s that way in India, but from an American perspective I never really understood it (what about December and January?). The Hindu holidays honoring the theme of a light in the darkness all fall during Karttika. Diwali is the Festival of Lights, and the Damodara observance centers on the offering of a lamp to Sri Krishna. I’m trying to understand this from two directions: first, that the offering of a lamp is central to all offerings, and second, that the act of worship is itself a small light in a dark world. Lately I’ve come to see my early morning or evening offerings – when things are a bit dark anyway – as a small moment where I can engage in worship and prayer and lay my heart, aspirations, and sufferings in Sri Krishna’s hands. Making offerings during this storm gives an excellent analogy: my focus and my prayers are with the Lord while we are surrounded by total chaos.
This has become such a special part of my day that I often find myself not wanting to leave this space. In one sense, it demonstrates how heavy the stresses in my life have become, that I want to sit with Sri Krishna and not go back into the world. I’m glad that I have this space, but I don’t want to see it as an escape. Rather, I want to be able to bring this precious bond into my life and all my activities. This has been one of my greatest challenges since I began to follow the path of faith, and never has the chasm between my spirituality and my work been greater than in the past month since returning to Princeton. I’m grateful that during this break week I can spend more time in meditation, prayer, and reflection, but I know that it’s a matter of consciousness, not one of time.
Very excited for the official start of Karttika today and to begin singing the Damodarastakam tonight. Today is Sharad Purnima, when Krishna began the rasa lila, but I don’t think I’ll be looking at this at all. It’s a bit too esoteric for me; I’m just trying to survive.