Monday, December 10, 2007

The tapestry

I met God at the Manzini Markets one December morning.

She was black and beautiful.

Sitting cross legged in the scalding dirt, she was almost invisible under the blanket of white noise and beaded sweat that smothered the open market place.

A thousand Squawking chickens, both human and avian, bustled around her. Above her, the sounds of fervent bartering rose in intertwined dischordant harmonies towards the yellow african sun.

But there in the midst of this stampede of life, she sat, serene and seemingly unflustered by the dust that was continually kicked in her face by unthinking passers by.

On her left, a pile of old drinking straws was neatly placed. Where she had found them, i will never know. Perhaps on the street, perhaps in the rubbish. Perhaps she'd bought them with what little money she had. But there they were, thirsting for something which was yet to be.

And to her right was a little pile of loose coloured papers. A two colour pallette of emerald green and deep pink.

Looking closer I saw that these little craft papers were not papers at all. They were in fact... bubble gum wrappers. The words "Chappies berry" or "Chappies spearmint" emblazened on each little coloured square.

I watched in wonder as she took a bubble gum wrapper, a straw and piece of old twine and with those frail, love worn hands began to weave. What she was weaving i did not know. But she was so engrossed in her work, so at peace and so exquisitely beautiful in her tattered, dirty, brown dress, that i couldnt help but be caught up in her magic.

So i sat down next to her and said "CiCi (which means sister) let me buy one of what you are making."

She looked at me and wiped the dust from her face. And then without a word she picked up a rolled up, completed work and gave it to me. I gave her 10 emalangeni which is about 3 dollars ,and all she had asked for. I put it in my backpack immediately, without even glancing at it first. You see there was simply so much going on in that market place, that to stay in one place for more than even a few seconds meant risking being trampled. When you're caught in a stampede, its best to keep moving.

I dont remember what happened during the rest of that December day except that by the time I arrived home, I had forgotten about my brief encounter with this gentle artist, as i'd expect is sadly an all too common occurence when humans come face to face with the divine.

It was only when I unzipped my backpack that I truly realised whose presence i had been in that morning. You see there before me, unrolled on my bed, was the most beautiful work of art I have ever seen.

Made from the humblest materials on this earth..things which anyone else would consider rubbish.... And yet a tapestry fit for the parlour of God himself.

Radiant with beauty, glowing with soft love.

Perfect in its detail, its textures and its arrangement of colours.

And there in the centre of the piece - was a message for the world, for all people, for all times, composed by an old homeless Swazi woman who supposedly knew no English.

Three words - woven by the time wrinkled hands of God herself out of bubble gum wrapping and drinking straws.

I met God at the Manzini markets one December morning.

She was black and beautiful.


Anonymous said...

They say a picture tells a thousand words. Yet your words paint pictures that da vinci would be jealous of. You are beautiful and loved beyond belief :)

bella said...

Your writing gives me chills.
In this moment, I saw God too, saw the woman weaving from straws and wrappers. And I carry this with me into the day. And I open my eyes.
THank-you. Thank-you. Thank-you.

get zapped said...

You blow me away. What a deeply moving story. I'm really awestruck and touched by the love you shared with us and the joy from this powerful woman. Thank you and Peace to all~

eric1313 said...

And God is good, no matter the accident of color or birth, the meek receive the earth as their blessing. And love redeems it's own.

Missed your posts, brother. Things are not always well, but I try to keep up.

Take care this week.

Peace and love

Gillian @ Indigo Blue said...

I agree, and have felt this way for all eternity! God is Love!
That is why I am named...
Wait for it...

God Is Love...Love Is A Narrative

(I'll be back tonight to read, must put away the groceries...I just needed a Maithri quick fix!!!)

Alexys Fairfield said...

Once again, you have brought the "warm and fuzzies" to my heart. I am overflowing with your love my dear.

Thank you.

Maithri said...

Dear "Anonymous",

I love you my angel ;)


Maithri said...

Dear Bella,

Im so grateful for your kind words. And that you see her too.

I want the world to see her.

Sitting there in the midst of chaos, weaving love.

I dont know how many of those scrolls/tapestries she made - but there is no nobler or more beautifully profound message which i can think...than her life.

The blessings of love, the softness and clarity of light

be yours my friend, and with all those you love,


Maithri said...

Dear Getzapped,

Thank you my dear friend for your kindness.

I wish i could zoom in on this picture so you could see that each little area of pink or green - is actually beautifully shaped parts of bubble gum wrappers - It hangs now with my Dad in his office - next to his books on Meister Eckhart and Rumi and the Buddha.

I think its an appropriate place for such a priceless work of love.

Whenever i see it, tears fill my eyes.

Deep peace and soft light to you, M

Maithri said...

Dear Eric,

Brother, know that you're in my heart during this difficult time in your life.

Yes love redeems its own.

And God is everywhere... in the eyes of our brothers and sisters...

They asked Mother Teresa how she tends to the lepers of Calcutta with such grace and dignity - She said "I see the face of God in each one. I treat each as though they were my beloved"

Love and invincible peace to you my brother, M

Maithri said...

Dear Gillian (or should I say GIL) ;)

Girl you crack me up!!! Hahahaha

And i'm sure youre mum would agree with me when I say that the name was an appropriate choice.

Love to you my friend, M

Maithri said...

Dear Alexys,

You are always overflowing with love my friend.

This story sums up so much of what Swaziland and Africa means to me.

In the midst of despair and chaos and pain... Here are these beautiful souls ... weaving love... fashioning hope from the discarded scraps of humanities table... hewing out of the craggy mountains of sorrow, precious dreams of new tommorrows.

I believe in love.

I believe in its power to transform, to transfigure

to change this broken world.

May we walk with this message in our eyes, our lips and our hearts...

For if God is Love...

and we are his Children - then love is our calling, our duty, our reason for being.

Love the world into change,

Blessings to you, Maithri

Princess Pointful said...

I was caught up in your words, yet it was so difficult not to move down to see something I had a sense would be beautiful.
Yet I wasn't imagining that.
Again... wow.

singleton said...

This is Christmas to me.....

she said...

this fills my heart up

to read words, to read a story, written as beautifully, meaningfully, powerfully, as the message it conveys

it is a constant fascination for me.. to witness love and creativity thriving despite chaos, poverty, and other unnecessary sufferings

and this link between the two: love and creativity. i have seen enough to realize, love/creativity are not contingent on wealth of money or material resources

but rather as mysterious and miraculous as the gift of life itself

"to God at the manzini market!"

much love, ~s.

Princess Haiku said...

People have this amazing ability to weave gold with the simplicity of their everyday lives. Gum wrappers...

Grace said...

oh man...I have goosebumps all over me. God, indeed.

LOVE indeed. are God too :)

Peace, brother.

Sheila said...

You story tells about something I have often observed Maithri.
People who have little or nothing see God everywhere. Those who have more than they need are always looking for Him.
Your wall hanging is a wonderful souvenir, and a testament to her faith.

karma lennon said...

Oh wow, chills.....that is so amazing. :)

Maithri said...

Dear Princess Pointful,

I think of the saying by Thoreau "Humility, like darkness, reveals the heavenly lights"

Whenever I think of her - the lights of heaven are revealed.

Love and peace my friend, Maithri

Maithri said...

Dear Singleton,

And to me also dear friend,

Its what it's all about.

Every word you utter is a poem. A gift.

Love, M

Maithri said...

Dear Sandra,

Yes, you know it sister !! Love and creativity and joy are never contingent on material wealth...

My experience of the developing world is that when you have nothing - love becomes everything -your currency, your home, your breath.

Love and blessings to you, M

Maithri said...

Dear Princess Haiku,

I love your words here...

"Weaving gold with the simplicity of their everyday lives"


May we do the same,

With love and thanks, M

Maithri said...

Dear Grace,

Thank you for your words and insights.

Yes Love indeed.

May we see the fullness of God in every one we encounter, instead of something to judge.

Love to you my friend, M

Maithri said...

Dear Sheila,

Thank you for sharing your beautiful wisdom...

I agree whole heartedly.

Spiritual wealth and the ability to find God, is never correlated to material wealth. In fact its often the reverse of what some would expect ;)

Sending you love and peaceful blessings, M

Maithri said...

Dear Karma,

Great to see you. It gives me chills to think of it also.

Love and deep peace to you, M

jon be me said...

Very nice site maithri. I look forward to reading more...and keep up the good work with the aids projects. We need more people as commited as you are in helping others. May God, that beautiful black woman that she is, bless your soul a thousand times over...

Maithri said...

Dear Jon be me,

Thanks very much brother for your kindness.

I think your site is just beautiful, and a testament to your spirit.

Blessings of peace to you and yours,


darvish said...

Your beautiful post had me in tears, dear Brother Maithri. I am in awe of the homeless woman who knows the truth and makes it her art, and of you who have the eyes to see it.

My love and blessings to you, brother, this Christmas and always.

Ya Haqq!

Maithri said...

Dear Irving,

My brother thank you for these beautiful words.

Each time I think of her, my eyes fill with tears.

I stand with you as we face the dawn of a new year...

in the strength and peace of love,

Love and deep peace to you and all those you love blessed brother,


Baraka said...

What a beautiful encounter!

Thank you for sharing that with us.


shree said...

beautiful post ..i gave me goose bumps thanks for sharing.

Maithri said...

Dear Baraka,

Thank you very much for your kind words.

May the soft light of love find you today,


Maithri said...

Dear Shree,

I am so glad that her soul reached out to you today.

May we tread gently on this planet,

May our eyes see the truth,

May we embrace each other

Sending peace to whisper to your heart, Maithri

-eve- said...

Moving. I am silenced. You write so well. :-)

Maithri said...

Dear Eve,

Her powerful wisdom silences me also, whenever I think of it...

It is possible to carry heaven in our hearts...

She proves it so,

Sending you peace and authentic power,


Anonymous said...

This is one of the most beautiful things ive read,

Im so glad ive found this place

Flights Of The Mind said...

Greetings Maithri !

Am really glad to find your blog full of wonderful posts.
This post really brought tears to my eyes when my mind painted a picture of howyou met GOD!
Yes, God is not external,It is Love.
Have an amazing day :),
Have to come here often to read more from "From Siteki, With Love"

rebecca said...

we are touched by the hand of God in so many different ways, and many times it comes in the form of the humble creating the simplest, yet most wondrous of things. this was beautiful.

Maithri said...

Dear Autre,

I'm honoured to meet you and have you visit.

Thank you for these loving words...

"God is not external. God is love."

So very true my friend,

So very very true,

Sending you deep love and peace this day and always, M

Maithri said...

Dear Rebecca,

I love all that you write. Your words are a blessing to me always.

You speak such truth here... THe hand of God is so often clothed in the most seemingly humble of lives...

We just need to look... in order to see..

Sending you my love and abundant light,