December 2019: Christmas thoughts from Mary Girard
(also posted www.amongtheoriginaldwellers.com)
I was so blessed when Joy shared this picture on Facebook. Though I had studied art under the Christian Indian artist, Frank Wesley, and have a book of his work, I had never seen this one. It clearly is his work; incorporating the message of God among us (Emmanuel) in the classical Kangra Valley style with Indian symbolism. I just love the fact that there are hardly ever nativity scenes where baby Jesus is in the arms of Joseph. As I care for my aging father I am more and more aware of the important role of the active father in a child’s life (from infancy to the end).
Enjoy meditating on this picture and reading the comparative birth stories in Matthew and Luke this Christmas season. May new insights of love, joy, peace and hope be birthed in you in the midst of a world; that is on one hand as beautiful as this, but on the other hand is just as cruel and oppressive as it was in the time of Jesus.
This past year has been so rich. I published my first book (through Lulu.com) and have had a few opportunities to promote it in the US and India. As I await efforts to get the book published in India (after a careful edit) I will continue to promote the publication in the US and Europe this coming year (starting in Florida in January) For those of you who have had a chance to read it I would appreciate if you posted your candid reviews on Amazon, Lulu, GoodBooks, Barnes&Noble or where you might have purchased your copy. My goal is to increase sales of the book in the West by 3 fold.
And when I say “candid”, I mean that. This was a challenging book to write. There were so many varied readers who I wrote for: academics, Christians of various ilk, those concerned with social justice, history, psychology and culture, as well as the Adivasi themselves and the general Indian population that see afresh their own history. I’m bound to step on a few toes or to confound others. I already know that some readers have found the book has spoken to them on an emotional or mental level. My main hope is that it ignites thought and even conversation about our complex world and histories and that the cause of the Adivasi and Christian minorities in India will be known.
I was very happy to attend the Jubilee Centennial year of the Autonomy of the Gossner Church (Evangelical Lutheran and 90% Adivasi). It was wonderful to join the churches in celebrating their culture, community, history and their Lord.
Celebration of NWGEL in Malar July 2019
Celebration of GEL in Ranchi November 2019
Glad to have shared joy Met my cousin, Klaus Roeber
and adventure with Delia whose ancestor was Alfred Nottrott
I also enjoyed speaking to many groups in India about the process and reasons for preserving and learning about and from their heritage and the unique Adivasi history. It must be documented or written down as the oral agriculture-based culture is perpetually diminished. On my next blog post I will share more details about the writing workshops that I have done and plan for the future.
In October I also enjoyed visiting Chhattisgarh for the first time since 1976. Since the monsoon was lingering everything was so green and fresh. Though I have little personal memory of my childhood home (ages 1-5) there are many family memories that were revived by my visit.
Arriving at the house that where our family lived from 1951-1964 in Tilda
Meeting Alfred (90 years old) our Kansama (cook)
Now I have returned home in Madison and have to concentrate on caring for my 95 year old father, who is finally feeling his age. He has been an indispensable research assistant and translator for me. His work is not yet done as I begin to research my next book, a novel about the relationship between a missionary wife and an adivasi woman. Two bible study groups have been so key to reviving my soul and imagination this past year. My heart is filled with blessings.
My son Joel is still living in Chicago and so we try to meet up every month. Renee is farther away in Miami but always near my heart. They are both finding their way in this world and I couldn’t be prouder of them both.
Much love to all friends and family, and even those who I have not as yet met.
Mary Girard (Madison, WI)
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Mary Girard with Bishop Nirmal Minz and his wife, Parakleeta, two remarkable leaders of the Adivasi Christians of Jharkhand. They are writer's themselves and have encouraged me much in my pursuit as a writer and have inspired many others. I am an author of my first book that is seeking publication. Among the Original Dwellers: Remembering Ferdinand Hahn, tells of the life story of my great great grandfather who was a missionary from 1868-1910 in Chota Nagpur. In writing his story I discovered the story of the Adivasi of the region who were also impacted by his life. I am now committed to inspiring others to learn and write about their Christian Adivasi heritage.