Monday, March 9, 2015


Dark sepia patterns dance across my palms and the back of my hands. The form on my right arm creeps up towards my elbow and slowly fades away, while that on the left is truncated just above the wrist. Though I have washed my hands again and again, the pattern persists. My hands are stained. Mehendi they call it.

My friend and “co-worker” is responsible for creating the patterns. She spent her lunch break painting my hands with a dark, thin paste as a farewell gift. I’m not sure she intended it this way, but I think of her and those I worked with when I catch a glimpse of my hands. The stains will last a number of days, but my hands will soon fade back to their familiar ghostly pallor.

Like my hands, my head and my heart have also been stained. They are not stained by a plant-based paste but by the events, characters, and experiences that colored the last two weeks of life for me. Many of my experiences I have shared here on this blog while others have intentionally been left out for various and sundry reasons. {For example, my family might not let me return if they knew all the details… ;)} But every person I met, became reacquainted with, got to know better, and just “did life” with in India has left a unique pattern of their own on my heart and mind.

Unlike the patterns on my hands, the stains inside are not likely to fade so fast. Those stains created by my 2013 trip have yet to disappear; I anticipate the stains of the 2015 trip to remain strong for a while as well. Right now, as I sit here in Tacoma, they make their presence known by a bizarre mix of joy, gratitude, humility, pain, and restlessness. Without warning they release the damn of unstable emotions and tears spill from my eyes; tears that I do not understand.

On the other side of my two week trip to India I still do not know exactly why I went. I had hoped that I would have some sort of answer to this question. I know that I still have a mystifying love for India and a craving to experience more of it and more of the people who have become so dear to me. And I still reach deep into my faith and grasp firm unto the knowledge that my God will make it clear to me some day. As for today today, I am forced to intermittently fight back a random flood of tears and keeping going forward. I will go back to Spokane today and attempt to resume my typical everyday life. I will go back to work tomorrow and strive to do my best with every patient and coworker I encounter. I will go with my God… and I will go forever stained by India.  

“…walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

“…’for I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord…” Jeremiah 29:11


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