There are man hands on my bottom.
This phrase floated through my mind. I watched the words like a subtitle in a foreign movie….and I laughed.
It was the kite festival in Ahmedabad. A group of beautiful sari-clad women poised on a roof summoned me and others to climb up a wall to join their dance-party.
Scaling the wall was more challenging than it looked. So I got an enthusiastic boost from several men behind me – virtual strangers…. They put their man hands on my bottom and pushed me up.
This was peculiar, because the culture of Ahmedabad feels proper to me. The women dress modestly. Men and women both tend to be well covered. The men seem respectful and mindful of boundaries. Of course, I’m generalizing; but I remember standing with Nipun one time when he and Jayeshbhai presented some young Wisdom Crafts women with beautifully woven shawls. I started to leave and Nipun whispered, “Can you please stay with us and anchor the feminine presence?”
“Of course.” I said. It was the kind thing to do. It conveyed a level of respect and safety.
Now, climbing over a wall, with man hands on my bottom, I marveled at my predicament and laughed with delight.
If only my church could see me now, I thought. “….There goes our Reverend Bonnie, up over a crumbling white wall, shoved from behind and hauled from above….Look at the man hands on her bottom. Look at the man hands pulling her up and over. Seriously, she must really want to dance.”
I did want to dance, badly. Enough to suffer the indignity of being shoved and hauled over a rough wall. Enough to see that the shoving and hauling was a delightful dance in itself.
And I laughed because it was so bizarre; I laughed because the man hands conveyed only care and respect. I felt the man hands’ sub-text, the message I knew they wanted us all to understand: “Get her over the wall, boys….We don’t want to drop the old girl, not on our watch….”
I love looking back on that moment where purity befriended impropriety.
Shakespeare wrote, “there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” I think he meant that our lives are defined by our thinking, our perceptions. And our actions are most certainly defined by our intentions.
I think about my proper intentions. The ones I’ve held forever. All the stories I’ve saved up over the years, like a bank account: don’t talk to strangers, always meet the needs of others, be serious, get ahead; don’t touch bottoms…. I wonder how these intentions have shaped my actions. I wonder if these are absolute truths that dictate how I should live my life from now on.
None of these are absolutely bad. None are absolutely good. It’s up to me to re-evaluate — and wherever possible to radicalize — radicalize my intentions into new love that propels me beyond my current conditioning and understanding.
Purity seems to be the key. When intention shifts from getting to giving, from fear to love – we can part from what we learned about propriety. Man hands on a bottom move from improper to pure. We can talk to strangers. We can say no or yes from an authentic place. We become safe in our holy intent and we dance, more joyfully than ever before.
Is there any place in your life where you feel called to re-evaluate and radicalize your intentions? Where do you “intend” from a place of fear? What might a purification of intention look like to you?