I have already written so much about the sense of the magical here in Kolkata. Yesterday’s visit outside of the city to the Sundarban Tiger Preserve was no different. So many rivers flow into and mingle with the Ganges River here, which then flows into the Bay of Bengal, all making for a lush and tropical landscape of mangrove forests, the largest in the world. The day was perfect. The journey an adventure I never thought I would ever experience.
But juxtaposed against the beauty of the land and water is the poverty, which still startles me and brings me great sadness. There is no way for it to become commonplace. It strangles me with tears so close to the surface at every turn. The unfairness of this world is a tough reality with which to grapple. There is no excuse, in this world of wealth and great waste, for anyone to be subjected to such harshness. There is no justification that can make eaking a living out of nothing alright. I will not even try to discuss here the complexities of worldwide poverty and the failures in food distribution. What I did learn, however, was that, in spite of their surroundings, in spite of their struggles, in spite of their daily stress of figuring out how they will feed and shelter their family, the people of this strong and proud country seem happy and content. They go about their daily chores, working SO incredibly hard, and make it somehow. Like all of humanity they struggle and fail, they readjust and try something else tomorrow. Those who are lucky enough to have land, a home and/or a job are the most determined and disciplined people I’ve ever seen. Those who don’t keep going somehow. From where they find hope, I don’t know, but they keep trying.
For moments at a time I have been able to set aside my shock and sadness to look more deeply into their eyes. There I see all of humanity fighting the good fight. Struggling day in and day out to do what is needed and necessary. There I see Christ. I am inspired by these people, amazed by their strength. I wonder, but never want to find out if I, too, would be able to reach that deep within myself to do what it takes survive.