My Village, My Tribe



I woke up the other morning to emailed photos of the annual Family Picnic. It’s an institution, an every year reunion of all living members of my father’s large family of origin. There were twelve children who had children who in turn had children, and those children are currently having more children.  So they gather, those who aren’t feuding or living far away, at the home place, to eat, reminisce, play softball, and marvel at how they all look the same, never change, don’t age, and isn’t cousin Charley’s little girl a handful!

I puzzled over the photo for a long time and then took a walk. My injured foot felt ready at last.

The past six weeks I’ve been immobilized due to an injury. During that time I became aware of a different world. On the best days it was vacant, void of feeling, a long tunnel of boredom. On the worst days a sodden blanket descended over everything and the atmosphere darkened with anxiety, foreboding, and fear. It was a place empty of gratitude. In my small room, day after day, foot propped on pillows, construction noise hammering around me, there were times when I sank into that other world.

But today marked the end of solitary confinement. I set out under paintbrush blue skies washed with sunlight and expectation. The taxi drivers in the street welcomed me back. Where had I gone? Had I been in America? I met an Australian friend for lunch and mailed a letter at the post office. Out of nowhere gratitude spilled over me. In gratitude anything is possible. The air sizzles with potential. People smile and instant bonds form. It’s a world of generosity and heart wholeness.

At the end of my outing, giddy and joyful I approached home. The shaggy grass in the yard had been trimmed by my neighbor. I drew closer and saw Ketut’s head in the kitchen window. I could hear Lake Batur fish sizzling in the pan. “How did you know I’d come home now and be starving?” His uncanny intuition is unnerving. “Did you read my mind?” I’ve accused him of that before.

“You long walk, maybe hungry,” he said as he piled mounds of stir-fried vegetables, steamed rice with chunks of sweet potato, and the crisp body of a whole fish on a plate and handed it to me.

“Yes,” I thought, “A very long walk, right out of one world into another.” I had created them both by what I allowed my mind to dwell upon. Ketut is always kind and thoughtful. The sun in Bali is always shining. I have no more or no less money today that I did yesterday. But for six weeks my stony little heart lacked gratitude.

Bali - Ketut's Family (4)

And then it hit me. What seemed odd about that picture was that all those people have white skin. Of course they do. They’re Norwegian with a smattering of other European genes. My family here is Indonesian, mostly brown, and sometimes I forget that I’m not.

But it isn’t skin color that makes a village, or shared history that creates a tribe. It’s the condition of the heart, the bonds of love and service, the willingness to be vulnerable and accessible to one another. That can happen anywhere.

And gratitude is the gate between worlds.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sageblessings
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 09:38:01

    I’m so happy for the abundance, vulnerability and truth in this post. I’m especially happy you are well.



  2. Lottie Nevin
    Aug 07, 2014 @ 02:34:44

    You are so right, Sherry. It is about gratitude. I felt no gratitude yesterday, I was in a beastly, awful mood (no doubt hormonal but that’s no excuse) and I’m hoping that today I shall be in a better place. Normally I’m bursting with gratitude and goodness, what a wonderfully sunny place the world is when I’m wearing my gratitude hat! Very pleased to hear that your foot is mending well, I bet you loved your walk 🙂



  3. pat grimsbo
    Aug 07, 2014 @ 09:54:11

    Good Morning Dear, Just read your post this morning and approve completely of it. The last four days of my life have been remarkable! Busy, busy and I am ready for a complete day of relaxation now that Dad has left for ADS after I shampooed and showered each of us before breakfast and the Bus came for him. (They are planning to take his group on a pontoon ride today as the weather is perfect.) Our Family Reunion Sunday couldn’t have been more perfect- around 50 were there and it was so good to visit with those we had not seen for up to five years! Then Monday Dan and Diane from Georgia stopped in for a visit before heading to Bemidji to visit some of her relatives and then back to Georgia. Tuesday night Jessa and Dan stopped briefly before going to the Country Inn (in the next block) for the night and after breakfast Jessa came here in time to go with Dad and me to the YMCA where we both enjoyed the Hot Tub first and then the Aquarobics Class. Back to the apartment where the four of us looked at albums, reminisced about the past, caught up on each other present and discussed upcoming events in our futures. It was hard to part when they left for home in the late afternoon. But Dad and I went to bed early last night and had a good sleep! Now another day is here. May we all have a good one! Love you Sherry, Mom and Dad



  4. Karin Grouf
    Aug 25, 2014 @ 14:57:23

    Eventually the world will no longer be colors , a meld of everyone and the result will be an awakening. Maybe not in our life but over the next thirty or forty years.No cast system.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: