“There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .” ~Charles Spurgeon

mosquito net

The reason I chose the following excerpt from my recently released book, The Chance to Choose, is to provide a taste of the storytelling found within her pages. This narrative non-fiction is indeed packed with self-help through the teaching portions of The Jeremiah Method™, but you also experience my life story which takes us from the hilltops of Pennsylvania, along the bustling streets of India, and into the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. There is no point or conclusion to the excerpt below. Just a window into the girl who finally made a decision to open one book that would save her life…

***

I was confirmed in an impressive Lutheran church as a 16-year-old. The spire reaches over 300 feet and can guide you back to itself from the other side of Main Street in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. I grew up a mere block (or three, depending on which house you pick) from its solid stone frame. Alpine length windows and a soaring arched ceiling lifted the main sanctuary to heights that a little girl’s eyes found mysterious. I looked for God countless times in that space. I always hoped to see His feet pop out of a long robe and dangle over the side of the stark white ledge that ran around the perimeter, but He never showed up. At least, He never felt close to me in that building, but I am thankful for the first place where I learned about Him.

After my confirmation, before I could get the scratchy white lace dress off, my grandparents presented me with my very own copy of The Good News Bible.1 With newfound determination, I vowed to read those velum pages every night before falling asleep.

I kept my promise three times.

Beginning, as you would any book, with page one, I opened it and started to read about the creation of the world and Adam and Eve. By the time I reached Cain and Abel on the third night, however, a seed of doubt took root. My question was, “Where did their wives come from?” It was a question I couldn’t answer, chose not to ask anyone else about, and therefore closed the book, leaving it next to my bed night after night. I dismissed it as foolishness and chose to stare at my Christopher Atkins posters plastered upon my walls. His blonde curly locks and loin cloth were far more interesting than Abel’s flocks and Cain’s soil. I had become the god of my own thoughts and I learned how to serve that god through my choices. By the time I packed up for college, that Bible was so foreign, it never made it into my suitcase, staying closed and unknown next to the bed I’d vacated.

***

Oddly enough, that Bible did make its way into my sack of limited necessities as I traveled to India. I think it might have been the last thing I absentmindedly threw into the blue pin-striped canvas bag my mom sewed for me. Limiting our belongings to one bag were the instructions given to us college students, while attending meetings and tasting curry to talk about what life would be like on the other side of the world.

The most Westernized Eastern Indian man, who facilitated the 8,000 mile partnership between Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and the Educational Media Resource Centre (EMRC) on the Pune University campus, was simply known for the American nickname we gave him—John. During his visits to our Pennsylvania campus, before we headed to his native country, he taught us important things, such as getting the right shots before traveling to a third world country and wearing the right clothes. No pants or jeans should be worn by a blue-eyed, blonde American girl, just skirts and dresses.

The flowing beatnik look wasn’t new to me, because I fashioned this style during my teenage confusion while traveling with the Grateful Dead to countless, mind-numbing concerts. The gauzy dresses weren’t a choice of modesty, but the decision of a want-to-be hippy looking for love in a wasteland. Because the intent in India was altogether different, wearing the frocks felt unnatural. All of me felt out of place. Maybe that’s why my American ethnocentric views spilled all over the dirty streets. I was protecting my discomfort with pride. It didn’t matter how many “meetings” or gatherings over non-authentic curry we had in a little western Pennsylvania town; nothing would prepare me for that first Bombay minute.

The sweating, stifling smell of desperation and hope will always be Bombay in my mind. This was 1989, not our 21st century Mumbai. I first set foot on Indian terrain in this city and so Bombay left the biggest universal impact on my foreign skin. The sheer numbers alone will leave anyone staggered. But Pune was not much different and was where I made my home at the University. I slept only a half mile from the bustling streets where colorful bazaars sold spices, fresh flowers, and bananas that were okay to eat. As long as we could peel the fruit, we were safe from unsanitary water touching the flesh that would enter our mouth.

I loved the freedom we had at the end of each day at the EMRC, because the classroom and television studio felt stagnant and too predictable, while immense bustle and a power to survive scurried a half mile away. I loved walking down the long dirt driveway lined with rows of tall trees away from the campus and into the sound of 1,000 restaurants, corner temples, roaring rickshaws, and roaming cows.

I was strangely curious of a world where I watched humans freely defecate in fields, shave next to an outside drain over a cracked mirror, or brush their teeth from water littered with dead body parts. It felt impossible that those who dared not dream for anything lived just beyond my 50 pound sack that was now unpacked and neatly folded onto an extra cot in my 15X15 square foot dormitory room. On the streets of Pune was where my piety began to wane, while wonder and searching possessed me. I began to really see people—the elegant way women walked with buckets on their heads, the spit of red betel juice, black fingernails over dainty tea cups for afternoon refreshment.

But interest also turned to longing and loneliness. During the day, honking horns and thousands of brown legs distracted my hunger, but night brought utter silence. I was all alone with only a laboratory-type fluorescent light and the Good News Bible I hadn’t opened in eight years.

***

 To purchase your copy of The Chance to Choose, simply order from my safe and convenient online store by clicking here. There are also eBook versions available through Kindle, Nook, and Apple iBook. Thank you in advance for your purchase!

“Kim Galgano is refreshing, honest, and real. She is a beautiful storyteller. The Chance to Choose, comes into our lives at just the right time. In a world where we can’t keep up the pace, are too weary, and a lot overwhelmed, Kim reminds us of the hope and grace that God offers through her amazing life journey.” Ana Kelly, Radio Host KCMS, Seattle, WA

 

 

Photo Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)