My trip unfolds in two distinct parts. First I will travel for twelve days with my husband, celebrating our 20th anniversary by touring the incredible historical sights of the Rajasthan region: the Taj Mahal; Ranthambhore National Park; the Amber Fort and City Palace in Jaipur; Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhawan Palace in the "Blue City" of Jodhpur; and Devigath Palace, Eklingji Temple and Nathswara Temples in Udaipur. These names feel so rich and exotic on my tongue and it feels like a dream that I will actually walk on their ancient pathways.
Then I will travel back to Jaipur to participate in the 'Making Way for the Feminine for the Benefit of the World Community'. This global summit of 400 women, men and young people from around the world will bring together leaders from a variety of diverse communities - spiritual, governmental, academic, policy makers, development professionals, human rights experts and young community leaders - to reflect upon what women have to offer that is different that can help steer the world community onto a new course. It is being organized by Global Peace Initiative of Women (http://www.gpiw.org/) as a celebration of their five year anniversary.
Joyce Oneko of Kenya is traveling to Jaipur so she can speak about the intense situation in her country; women in the U.S. donated the funds to make her trip possible. Janet Pinto from Mubai will be my roommate and Indira Ghale is coming from Nepal to represent Dalit women. Elinore Dettiger and I plan to share a pot of tea and have a long chat.
I realize I have entered that interesting phase on the cusp of a grand journey that my friend Clare Peterson describes as the 'antechamber' -- the space between two radically diverse points in time and space. I feel I am not quite here and I am not yet there. The only option is to float along with the current and enjoy the ride.
Last night I gathered in sacred circle with a group of friends who each contributed a small treasure to a 'traveling altar' for my trip. Ginny, who tuned in by speaker phone from her new home on Vancouver Island, sent a small copy of a painting she did recently with haunting images of hands reaching out to make connection. Barbara was able to join us from Juneau, Alaska and brought a card describing the goddess quality of "Strength". Andrea's gift was a brilliant blue heart within a heart and images of three powerful Hindu goddesses. Joy shared an amulet that I can wear around my neck reminding me that I am protected by angels. Charlotte made a tiny folding paper altar with the words of Confucius: 'Wherever you go, there you are.'
I know that somewhere in India at some time in the coming weeks, I will set up my traveling altar and invite magical women there to light a candle and link their hearts with the hearts of these wonderful women from home. We will have a lived experience of the wise words spoken by Fred Molle, our driver in Tanzania in December 2006:
I am so blessed.