“Let your life be your message.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Thirteen chairs covered with vibrant pink material caught my eye first.
Our first full day in New Delhi started very early because the forecast was for a high of 100 degrees (which would “feel like” 112 degrees). We left the hotel at 4:30am to visit the peaceful village of Pachayara, about a 45-minute drive from our hotel in Delhi.
The welcoming smiles on the faces of the Rajesh family and the incredible preparations they had made for our visit immediately made us feel like we were in the home of old friends. The pink chairs, which stood out so starkly in the dry setting, sent a message that thought had been put in to our arrival and care had been given to details of our stay.
The Hindus say, “Athithi devo bhava.” – “The guest is god.”
Many of us were taking mental notes of how to improve our own hospitality at home as we shared the morning with our hosts. We were offered homemade treats and special snacks everywhere, we discovered we weren’t the only ones who liked taking selfies, and we drank fresh boiled cow’s milk.
We sat at the home of the village elder, who shared his hookah with several of the fellows and even gave one of us a motorcycle ride around the compound! Another home offered us the chance to pat out the roti into a circle before placing it on a metal pan sitting above the fire of cow patties. We cranked the sorghum machine to chop it up for cattle feed. We laughed in the joy of each other’s company. We savored our time with each other. We exchanged cell numbers and Facebook pages.
The love we felt from the village of Pachayara was the message they lived every day. You could see it in the eyes of the children, because you knew they had learned to be kind and compassionate from their families. You could feel it in the eyes of the older women who laughed when my roti folded over on itself to look more like a turnover.
Today’s lesson was simple: How much more could we do if, instead of holding our hands up to block or avoid encounters, we embraced each other? What more could we accomplish if, like our new friends in the village of Pachayara, we allowed our lives to be a consistent message of empathy and love for all?