Back in 2009, I traveled to India on a spiritual journey with thirteen companions. After staying for five nights in Varanasi, it was time to travel by train to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal. We arrived at the train station early to catch our 10 p.m. train.
It was sweltering in India. You could be standing there doing nothing but breathing and would be sweating profusely. It must have been 100 degrees out with 80 percent humidity, so it felt like 800 degrees. It was rather uncomfortable.
The train stations are different in India than in the United States. I saw giant rats the size of my head, flying insects, and beetles the size of my hand crawling around. There were also skinny cows walking through the train station as if they were also waiting for their train. It started to get dark out yet hotter. The loudspeaker crackled, and we heard that our train was delayed by two hours. Now we were waiting on the midnight train to Agra.
My traveling companions and I formed a circle on the platform of the station while waiting. Imagine all fourteen of us with our mountain of luggage in the center. I’m sticky, thirsty, and fatigued from the sweltering heat, sitting on the edge of my suitcase, feeling like I want to go home, simultaneously praying for a breeze.
Suddenly our leader began to play her harmonium, which she somehow managed to dig out from the mountain of luggage. A harmonium is a pump organ that generates sound as air flows past a vibrating piece of thin metal in a frame.
She began to sing: Hara Hara Mahadeva Shambo, Kashi Vishwanath Gange. People joined in the singing, from our group and others waiting for their train too.
Our circle grew to three more circles around it. Everyone was chanting and smiling, clapping and happy. Beautiful women with large nose rings who wore gorgeous jewel-toned saris joined in song. Businessmen and children all started chanting. It was even hotter now, but Spirit moved me to jump up and start chanting with them. Hara Hara Mahadeva Shambo, Kashi Vishwanath Gange. It was liberating to sing. I forgot about the heat and felt gratitude and joy rise in me as I continued to sing.
Suddenly out of nowhere, I was handed a little battery-operated fan with led lights flashing at me: red-blue-green-yellow-red-blue-green-yellow. Feeling the gentle breeze I had just prayed for a few moments prior, I felt immense gratitude wash over me. My heart was full and overflowing with so much love and appreciation. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. As my energy shifted, my vibration lifted, and I was gifted!
I thought the fan was the gift, but the best present was the flow of gratitude that energized my body, transformed my attitude, and spilled over into the rest of my trip. Gratitude is a gift to yourself.
And so it is.