Today’s Word from Sheila Weidendorf
In India, Where the Guest is God
I come to touch my feet
upon the earth in the place
where the guest is God
In this land where Everything exists
within Nothing and holiness is never more
than a breath away
I come to feast my eyes
upon the riches of this holy land
where the guest is God—upon the light
that shines pure gold in the hills,
and upon the stones that glitter
and gleam on hard desert ground
I come to fill my heart here
in the land where I am a guest,
seeing God in the eyes of all I meet,
maybe even in my own
(Sheila Weidendorf, 2022)
There is no kind of hospitality like Indian hospitality. It is written in the Vedas, “Atithi devho bhav”—the guest is God.
I spent part of my time in India in the state of Gujarat, first to attend a wedding and then for a lecture and performance at a friend’s music school. In Gujarat it is said, “Tane swarg bhulavu shamla, tha kok di maro mehman..” It means a devotee is inviting Lord Krishna, saying “Come to my home, God… You will forget your heaven.”
And let me say with unwavering certitude that I have never in my life felt devotion, grace, and loving hospitality like I experience here in India. The poorest of the poor will give you their everything and every kindness reveals the love of God.
And isn’t that our charge in the family of Christ? “Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do unto me…” What would our world be like if we treated everyone we meet as the Christ? What if we recognized God everywhere, in everyone? What if we truly lived beyond dogma, beyond judgement and simply loved?
In this way, everything we do could be a prayer, a praise hymn, a building of bridges and a balm to the weary and broken-hearted. Oh God, our God—let it be so in me today. Amen.