The Duality of our Realities

When I look at this picture, I feel the duality of our realities. This picture was taken moments before leaving Kalavai. Here I stand with Vijay (left) and Sudyr (right), two of my friends who live in the Irula (translates to ‘untouchable’) colony in Kalavai. As I think through my experience there, this trip was much different than the first. I was able to get closer to the people this time; more relational, more hands-on, more real.

The material and immaterial

Of course, there are stark differences in our lives in comparison to theirs. The duality I feel when looking at this photo is that I spent a week living very closely to their standard. Yet within a few hours, I would get closer to living the way that I do back home in the States. Their reality never changes.

I kept a journal during both of my trips to Kalavai. Earlier this week, after being back in the States for a couple of days, I recorded this entry:

“Just thinking about how different their reality is from ours. In every way material, and many ways immaterial. We’re (my wife and I) talking through scheduling; who is going to take which kid where. I was thinking about the nights when I couldn’t sleep in Kalavai… I would pop in my earbuds and fade away [listening to my iPod]. Such a luxury…”

Of course, this is not a feel guilty message – it’s just an awareness of the differences.

Headed for familiar comforts

A few minutes after this photo was taken we were headed to Chennai and the familiar comforts of a real bed and air conditioning; two things we definitely didn’t have during our week in the Irurla colony near Kalavai. We were completely disconnected from the moving world – no internet, news reports, politics, social media, or car dealership commercials.

As I write this post, I am sitting on my couch sipping a cup of coffee in my living room, which coincidentally is larger than the average house in the Irula colony. Again,  cannot feel guilt, just awareness of how blessed we are here at home. Many of the comforts we often take for granted will never be experienced in Kalavai.

Untouchable no more

Being in Kalavai twice in the past two years have offered me a different perspective in several areas; my faith in God, the fortune of my home and family, and the selflessness of giving. I am thankful for my time with the Irula people and the place they now forever hold in my heart.

May they know in their hearts that they are untouchable no more, and that they are loved by many.

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4 thoughts on “The Duality of our Realities

  1. Dale – great words of wisdom. Learning to live with the tension of our different realities is probably the first step in how to become useful and helpful in both.

    • Thanks Dan. You know very well the subtleties between our cultures, and how very difficult it can be to fully wrap your head and heart around those differences. I felt like this post is a bit of a gloss-over of the real, potentially non-relatable, dualities that exist.

      But, I digress. This could turn into a several hour conversation with a willing ear. :-)

      Thank you for reading!

  2. Hi IRULA Community is tribe who are specialist in Catching Snakes and other reptiles, Well this community is spread all over India like any other community. Well What makes to visit them and convert them to Chirstianity by allurement. Well you are living in US and your forefathers killed lots of Red Indians and occupying their land. Now in the name of Christ your Religion of Merchant is converting people all over the world, better you see HARLEM, HELL’s KITCHEN and other in hospitable places in US and teach them how to live like Human instead of coming to India for the purpose of coverting and proseltysing.

    • Thank you for your comment! I do not believe that the work I have bee apart of in India is for the sole purpose of conversion. It is so important, as you say, to teach people how to live a life of value and honor – and I agree with that completely. But when asked why we would leave America to come help Irula people in India, it is because we are Christ followers.

      No one else for any other reason will help the lowest of the low, poorest of the poor. We ask nothing in return, and do not require conversion as a condition of our work. But when people experience the people of God, it is natural that they too may want to follow Jesus. That is the difference between going to convert people to Christ, versus going to help people because you follow Christ. Very different.

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