Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I took this picture in 1984, at Church of the Good Shepherd, in a slum in or near Bombay, India. (Now called Mumbai.) What struck me about the church -- in which I think spoke briefly -- was how clean it was, an island of beauty and order in a sea of ugliness.
We had parked several blocks away, and walked into the sprawling slum on foot. One had to watch one's step, as the streets were full of garbage. I took another photo of an old woman sitting crunched up under an umbrella in the hot sun, by the side of a concrete culvert / river / open sewer. I remember the smell. Later that day, we also visited a school that was heartbreaking to me: large rats ran along the tops of partitions between classrooms during the middle of the schoolday, with classes full of children.
But this church was, as I said, living proof that cleanliness often is next to godliness. Good to pile one's sandals outside: Heaven knows where they had been that day.
And notice how nicely the child is dressed -- much better, let me add, than is the standard in comfortable America.
Ugly as the slum was, two of my other favorite photographs were also taken here, which I may share some time: a beautifully-dressed woman carrying an idol on her head, and a small girl standing by drapes and a rusty old can -- the beauty of which scene is best shown, rather than described.