Sharing some thoughts on the Trees to Seas mission to Bali.
This is the first time I’ve been alone since leaving the airport in Denpasar. A beautiful home with a garden in front and a bamboo mesh for the front wall will be my home away from home. It is called Mata Kail, “fishhook” in the language of Indonesia and it affords all the comforts of home. I’m trying my best to clean the place up before my host returns. Ms. Sierra is London born, but has been living in Bali for the better part of a decade.
The Balinese are an extremely superstitious people. There’s bad spirits to protect your newborn from and powers associated with each day. Offerings are given and priests are consulted so all is done in a way that keeps one’s karma aligned in a favorable way. Sitting here in solitude I’m trying to imagine a life so connected to the niskala, the intangible, the spirit world. Mata Kail is known to have very good energy. All the Balinese that come here comment on the good fortune and safety within its walls. I was raised by the objectivists of modern science thought and feel a certain compulsion to write such things off as myth. Even still I wonder if the extra elbow grease I put into scrubbing the floors had something to do with keeping things straight with the spirits.
I came to Bali in 2015 to assist in the training of two scuba divers, so that they could acquire professional insurance in order to protect themselves from occupational legal trouble. After hearing a story from one, Wayan Ardika, it’s easy to understand why they feel so strongly that a very real power exists beyond our perception of the world. He had a nephew that was born very weak, barely surviving. In such dire circumstances they resort to a local clinic with medical professionals. The doctor couldn’t diagnose the infant’s ailment, but predicted it wouldn’t live more than a couple more weeks. In distress, Wayan’s family consulted the priests and performed a ceremony to draw healing powers from ancestors and niskala. In a matter of hours the kid’s health had dramatically improved and he now lives a very normal life, years after the matter. Anecdotal? Yes. Powerful? Yes. It’s stories like this one that make me wonder if maybe there wasn’t something left behind when the western world made the switch to objectively scientific medicine.