Home » Newpages Blog » Lalitamba – 2015

Lalitamba – 2015

Instead of an editor’s note, Lalitamba begins: “This journal is an offering. May all beings be joyful and free.” Lalitamba (meaning Divine Mother) features nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and art speaking to a diversity of religious and spiritual traditions. Lalitamba opens us up to belief in all its forms, especially our connection to other beings across difference.

Instead of an editor’s note, Lalitamba begins: “This journal is an offering. May all beings be joyful and free.” Lalitamba (meaning Divine Mother) features nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and art speaking to a diversity of religious and spiritual traditions. Lalitamba opens us up to belief in all its forms, especially our connection to other beings across difference.

In Vanessa Raney’s poem “I Saw Him in My Cellmate,” Raney illuminates the narrator’s belief of the divinity within people, best shown through their actions, not words. Set in a women’s prison, Raney contrasts a guest speaker preaching to the inmates about God’s plan, with the unassuming acts of kindness from the narrator’s cellmate: a prostitute. Raney does not focus on the woman’s profession, but on the divinity within the acts of sharing a cell and sharing food. Through her line breaks, Raney depicts God existing within us: “I know God was there, because I saw Him / in my cellmate.” It is this cellmate who leaves the narrator believing that God acts through the empathy we show each other.

Diane Vreuls takes us on a different understanding of belief and connection in her poem “Directions.” Vreuls hones in on the journey inward to connect to ourselves. Beginning in the second person, you are on a pilgrimage to find a holy temple. Then halfway through the poem, the narration shifts from you to we. This changed narrator views an empty clearing where the temple should be and asks, “Have we lost our way / or found / the temple?” Vreuls writes a slow and reflective piece that reminds us to connect first with ourselves in order to find the answers we seek.

“Natural Piety,” a poem by Bonnie Stanard, combines church imagery with the season of fall. The narrator gathers acorns from her mother’s church to create a wreath for the table. And though the narrator knows the acorns won’t last season after season like a plastic wreath, Stanard’s belief is in the renewal of nature through the seasons. Belief is in the knowledge and hope “that days will pass, / that when the chill is over / a seedling will arise” from the acorns. But in the midst of fall, belief means cultivating the trust this miracle will occur.

“Monkeys, Miracles, and Meaning,” a nonfiction piece by K. Prasad Kumariya redefines a miracle. Kumariya receives a YouTube video documenting a miracle: a female ape taking care of a human child. But for Kumariya, the ape’s act is not a miracle, but a natural act of empathy: “An ape [ . . . ] recognizes strangers, other animals, what is foreign, as ‘self’ [ . . . ] This is the natural course of things.” Kumariya begs readers to recognize all fellow creatures as “self” the same way other primates have done. He calls our attention to view all other humans, “the criminals, the desperate, the poor, the oppressed, and neglected” as “self.” Seeing another being as worthy of all life’s riches is Kumariya’s miracle.

In Ryan Rickrode’s story “The Heavy Veil of Wind-Driven Rain,” the narrator, Jill, tells the story of Karla, a twenty-four-year-old woman killed when a tornado rips through town. Rickrode balances Jill’s story about her faith, alongside Karla’s story. Though Jill never really knew Karla, she narrates the tragedies of Karla’s life—from her mother’s death, to the stillborn birth of her child—and how Karla keeps on living and even grows more devout. It is Jill’s faith that wanes: “It wasn’t right what the Lord had done [to Karla]. At least, it seemed so to me. I don’t know what I’m saying here.” Rickrode does not shy away from a story grounded in religion where devotion does not equal bliss or immediate answers. Rather, it’s a quiet story riddled with Jill’s confusion and grief.

Lalitamba is truly an offering for all beings. The journal is inclusive of a multiplicity of religious and spiritual traditions, depicting the connectedness of our world. This is a journal of spiritual exploration. It illuminates many paths to belief and living with empathy.
[www.lalitamba.com]

 

Spread the word!