The Meandering River of Unfathomable Joy

Finding God and Gratitude in India

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“Everywhere I turn, I see and hear expressions of faith: offerings of flowers at the feet of small shrines, the Muslim call to prayer, candles floating on the Ganges, bindis on women’s foreheads, and Qawwali singers in a twinkle-light-festooned courtyard. I’ve seen Christian churches, the largest mosque in India, Sikh and Jain temples, Buddhist pilgrimage sites, and countless Hindu shrines. Of the things I’ve only read about, there are Jain nuns who eat only one meal per day, shamans who memorize and perform four-thousand-line Rajasthani poems, and devotees of the goddess Tara who embed the entrances to their homes with human skulls. Even all the cows I see hold religious significance as they are worshipped by Hindus. As the providers of life-sustaining milk, they are sacred, seen as maternal figures and symbols of “the divine bounty of earth,” one source says. Ayurveda originated in India, and so did yoga. If my aim was to turn away from India’s spiritual soul, it would take a determination on par with trying to ignore the snow outside my window in February.

I prayed the day I flew halfway around the world to be here, and I’ve prayed every day since. I left my tiny bundle of salt, lavender, and stone in the Ganges, and I found comfort in God’s presence on the flight from Varanasi to Delhi, when my illness grew to its worst and I felt like a needle was being drilled into my eardrum. Despite the level of physical misery on that ninety-minute flight, it wasn’t possible for my prayers to be about anything other than gratitude. Thank You for keeping me safe. Thank You for my friends, who just provided a packet of tissues. Thank You for the bottle of water that has just been handed to me. This time around in India, everything hits me more acutely, seeping into my pores and getting beneath my skin. But the challenges I face take place within a vast spiritual universe that keeps showing me I am not alone in my desire to be one with my Creator—God.”

{Excerpt from The Meandering River of Unfathomable Joy}

28 stories | 7 illustrations | 100+ photographs | 4 recipes

How can thirty-one days in India change a person’s soul? In a country with 1.2 billion residents who speak twenty-three languages—one that is halfway around the world from her home—author Christine Mason Miller discovers a place of deep, abiding faith that affirms her spiritual journey around every corner, teaching her what it means to embrace what is,  to live in gratitude, and to surrender to the flow of each moment.