Wayan once told me that sometimes when she's healing her patients she becomes an open pipeline for God's love, and she ceases even thinking about what needs to be done next. The intellect stops, the intuition rises and all she has to do is permit her God-ness to flow through her. She says, "It feels like a wind comes and takes my hands."
This same wind, maybe, is the thing that blew me out of Wayan's shop that day, that pushed me out of my hung-over anxiety about whether I was ready to start dating again, and guided me over to Ubud's local Internet cafe, where I sat and wrote--in one effortless draft--a fund-raising e-mail to all my friends and family across the world.
I told everyone that my birthday was coming up in July and that soon I would be turning thirty-five. I told them that there was nothing in this world that I needed or wanted, and that I had never been happier in my life. I told them that, if I were home in New York, I would be planning a big stupid birthday party and I would make them all come to this party, and they would have to buy me gifts and bottles of wine and the whole celebration would get ridiculously expensive. Therefore, I explained, a cheaper and more lovely way to help celebrate this birthday would be if my friends and family would care to make a donation to help a woman named Wayan Nuriyasih buy a house in Indonesia for herself and her children.
Then I told the whole story of Wayan and Tutti and the orphans and their situation. I promised that whatever money was donated, I would match the donation from my own savings. Of course I was aware, I explained, that this is a world full of untold suffering and war and that everyone is in need right now, but what are we to do? This little group of people in Bali had become my family, and we must take care of our families wherever we find them. As I wrapped up the mass e-mail, I remembered something my friend
Susan had said to me before I left on this world journey nine months ago. She was afraid I would never come home again. She said, "I know how you are, Liz. You're going to meet somebody and fall in love and end up buying a house in Bali."
A regular Nostradamus, that Susan.
By the next morning, when I checked my e-mail, $700 had already been pledged. The next day, donations passed what I could afford to match.
I won't go through the entire drama of the week, or try to explain what it feels like to open e-mails every day from all over the world that all say, "Count me in!" Everyone gave. People whom I personally knew to be broke or in debt gave, without hesitation. One of the first responses I got was from a friend of my hairdresser's girlfriend, who'd been forwarded the e-mail and wanted to donate $15. My most wise-ass friend John had to make a typically sarcastic comment, of course, about how long and sappy and emotional my letter had been ("Listen--next time you feel the need to cry about spilled milk, make sure it's condensed, will ya?"), but then he donated money anyway. My friend Annie's new boyfriend (a Wall Street banker whom I'd never even met) offered to double the final sum of whatever was raised. Then that e-mail started whipping around the world, so that I began to receive donations from perfect strangers. It was a global smothering of generosity. Let's just wrap up this episode by saying that--a mere seven days after the original plea went out over the wires--my friends and my family and a bunch of strangers all over the world helped me come up with almost $18,000 to buy Wayan Nuriyasih a home of her own.
I knew that it was Tutti who had manifested this miracle, through the potency of her prayers, willing that little blue tile of hers to soften and expand around her and to grow-- like one of Jack's magic beans--into an actual home that would take care of herself and her mother and a pair of orphans forever.
One last thing. I'm embarrassed to admit that it was my friend Bob, not me, who noticed the obvious fact that the word "Tutti" in Italian means "Everybody." How had I not realized that earlier? After all those months in Rome! I just didn't see the connection. So it was Bob over in Utah who had to point it out to me. He did so in an e-mail last week, saying, along with his pledge to donate toward the new house, "So that's the final lesson, isn't it? When you set out in the world to help yourself, you inevitably end up helping . . . Tutti."