Category Archives: Uncategorized

Creating a Welcoming World

Making her first trip to Omaha

Later this month, a group of us will welcome Ravina to Omaha for her first visit. We’re excited to spend time with this bright, determined student from Maher Ashram in India, who realized her dream of attending a U.S. college and possesses a passion for Classical Indian and Bollywood dance.

Hospitality Opens Borders & Hearts

Ravina’s visit also offers me the chance to practice my welcoming skills.   In India, the guest is sacred.  If we do our welcoming well, it’s my hope that Ravina will feel as loved and at home as we did at Maher recently.  Our task of welcoming is considerably easier.  We aren’t hosting a mass and four 20th Anniversary celebrations attended by friends and well-wishers from around the world, a former Indian President and a renowned Buddhist monk at the same time we are welcoming Ravina.

Maher’s Daily Greeting

The Nature of Welcome

During 9 ½ months of visits to Maher, I’ve watched the women, children, men and staff welcome a seemingly endless parade of international visitors from Singapore to Lichtenstein, a steady stream of local friends celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, and families, friends, and neighbors arriving for one of the 90+ weddings or other events.  Each time, the community sets aside what must feel like pressing duties, exhaustion, and cricket or studying, to welcome, celebrate, or uplift someone or something.  And, each time, the community members offer their hearts with joy, smiles, and grace.

Welcoming neighbors, friends and visitors from near and far.

Sometimes the spirit of welcome seems most apparent in small gestures, as when Maher Founder and Director Sr. Lucy Kurien stopped by to school us on sari wear after spending more than ten hours celebrating with thousands of guests.  Her attention and care spoke volumes.

Learning One Person, One Organization at a Time

This way of welcoming is a skill I seek to master.  I want it to become second nature.  This hospitality that uplifts the person being welcomed and doing the welcoming—whether the guest is staying for 5 minutes, 5 days or 5 months.

After all, there’s a world out there to welcome into our hearts and homes.

In the Spirit of Love

Maher Anniversary Image

Wa-hoo!!! Today marks Maher’s 18th Anniversary!!!  The theme for the year is “Clean Self. Clean Maher. Clean Village.  Clean India.”  

Sr. Lucy and all the dear people who founded Maher embody the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Sr. Lucy Kurien

Eighteen years ago, they could not have known that Maher would grow to:

  • 34 homes in 3 Indian states,
  • provide care & shelter 1,100 children, women & men on any given day,
  • make it possible for so many children to be the first in their families to attend and complete primary and secondary school,
  • support 530 self-help groups of 10 to 20 members in surrounding villages,
  • inspire people around the world with their commitment to love, interspiritual harmony, & justice.

Maher Sports Day

According to the World Bank, 33% of the world’s economic poverty is in India.  India has more economic poverty than any other country.  Maher is a shining example of Margaret Mead’s famous quotation, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”


On this special day and throughout the month, please pray for and/or send positive thoughts and intentions to Maher.  I also ask that you consider a financial gift to affirm Maher’s bold work in our world.  No gift is too small.  The cost of a flavored coffee drink in the U.S. provides food and shelter for a woman or child for more than two days.  Tax- deductible donations can be made online at:  www.the or by check to The Howley Foundation, 36 Kinsington St., South Burlington, VT, USA 05403.  Sr. Lucy, in concert with the Board, directs the use of all funds based on Maher’s needs.

May your February be filled with peace and beauty.

Love & gratitude,


Let’s Cultivate New Possibilities


” . . .by 2020 depression will be the second most prevalent medical condition in the world.”  I’ve been haunted by this World Health Organization projection ever since reading it in a March 25, 2014 New York Times Op-Ed piece by T.M. Luhrmann.

The good news is . . . it isn’t 2020 yet.  The not-so-good news is that we aren’t talking 61 years from now, we’re talking six.  Yet, within every projection resides the seeds of possibility.

Clearly, there’s a dizzying array of health and social justice issues underlying what could become a global onslaught of depression.  And, there are models, such as Catherine Place ( in the U.S. and Maher ( in India and many others, that are cultivating love, hospitality, connection, beauty and healing in a world that far too often feels empty and hopeless to many.  Let’s start using more of our wisdom, power, resources, and creativity to cultivate greater health, happiness, respect and justice for all.  Because a projection is only what might happen.  With focus, compassion, and collaboration, we have the intelligence and the ability to create a much brighter future. 


If there are models that you are excited about, who do you feel called to share them with?