IN THE MIDST OF UNCERTAINTY

In an eastern folklore story, a horse ran away from the stable and the next morning the neighbor of the horse owner came to sympathize with his situation and said, “it’s bad luck that you lose a horse”. After a week the same horse came back with another wild horse and the horse owner was very happy. As the neighbor got to know the incident, he came to encourage the horse owner and said, “it’s good luck that it’s because of that day loss you got a new horse today. Early morning the son of the horse owner took the wild horse for taming and while taming the horse kicked and broke his leg. Like a good neighbor, the same man paid another visit and sympathize saying, “it’s bad luck, it’s because of that day your horse ran away and brought this wild horse, your son had to break his leg.” The next morning everything was normal but during lunch, the gang of local thugs came to forcefully recruit the horse owner’s son in their gang. But as they saw his condition, they withdraw their plan and went back without the boy. By the evening it becomes the gossip of the day and the neighbor visited and said, “Brother, it’s really good luck, if your son hasn’t lost his leg today, you would have to lose your son.” Finally, the man replied, “in one single episode of my life so many new things are happening, how can I say, which is good luck and bad luck for me and why all this is happening?” 

Indeed, every now appears in a new way and enfolds a new lesson. We always try to define TIME according to its outcome, whereas in reality every time we fail. The truth about time – the time is always inconsistent. And the American Novelist, Sir Nathaniel Hawthrone said,

Time flies over us, but leaves its shadows behind.

The shadows of time are “the memories” and I cherish them. We always treasure chat histories, old pictures and letters from our friends and family. Good memories refresh the relationship, at times it reignites our first love and revitalizes the bonding but Bad memories give us pain, push us into discouragement and drains our mental health. Refraining from the difference of time, we can say – MEMORIES ARE POWERFUL REMINDERS.

On 1st January 2019 afternoon, I went to the church and the sermon preached at the church convicted my heart. I felt sorry for keeping my anger against one of my dear ones. At church, I decided to clean-up the bitterness and the same night by God’s grace I was able to deal with it. Alike every other time, I hoped now no more anger – no more bitterness – it’s goona all good but alas… after some days the same problem – the same issues – some more heartaches and in fact towards the end of the year things went a little worse.

Now turning to the pages of professional life diary, let me start the tour from 2018 end. The 2018 end was not that jovial time of my professional life, there were some worries, some hopelessness, and some regrets. In the midst of these mundane experiences, I had to kick 2019 and prayed to God for the renewal of my strength, restoring my focus and reigniting my vision. Amazingly, God answered almost all of the prayers in concern to my professional life.

In a few moments, we will step into 2020. But both the folklore & the personal memories reaffirms us one thing – “TIME IS INCONSISTENT AND UNCERTAIN”. No one guarantees there will be no more sorrow and no more pain. The obscurity of the future repeats the same question – WELL, WHATS THE HOPE FOR ME THAT I WILL CLING UPON TO TREAD UNTO THE UNKNOWN – 2020?

As the answer to the question, I am reminded with the first stanza of the poem “God Knows” written by the British Poet Minnie Louise Haskins –

“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

“Give me a light that I may tread safely to the unknown.”

And he replied:

“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.

That shall be to you better than the light and safer than a known way.

Probably, that’s the right answer! Since God eternally exists and is above the time, He knows the future better than any human mind would perceive. Trusting His power would be best because He is not a human who changes with the course of time and the graph of self profit margins.

Jesus said,

“I am the light of the world.

Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

God be with you in your 2020 journey!

Happy New Year.

GROWTH OF THE BONDING

During Christmas, a survey was conducted with a few teenage kids. They were asked, “What would you hope to get this Christmas? They asked for a Computer – A giant Barbie house – A Trophy Case – A Xbox 360 – A Minecraft legos”. Then they were asked, “What would your Mom or Dad hope to get this Christmas?” They replied, “My mom would love to have a Gold Ring since she never really had a ring” – “She loves Necklace” – “They would be happy to get a new TV” – “He wants a night watches” –  “Dad needs a motorbike”.

To their surprise, the kids got all they desired both for them and for their family but there was an “either-or” catch. They had to choose between the two alternative gifts. Though it’s was quite troublesome for them but their choice turned-out a great blessing. Each of the kids decided to give up their gifts and took the gifts for their parents. They reasoned, “Barbie house & Legos don’t matter, FAMILY MATTERS! It is the only time I can gift something to my family. My relationship with my family is more important than the gifts I want”.

Bible says, ”Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God”. And the expression of love is only found in “Sacrifice”. The biggest example of “the expression of love in sacrifice” seen in human history is the purpose of the Christmas story. God loves us so much that, He took birth in a human flesh named ‘Jesus’ and lived with us to die and pay the wages of our sins that we had and we will commit ever.

It would be profound to say, “Sacrifice nurtures relationship”. But in this blissful nurturing the clock also strikes through some gloomy phase. Sketching the picture further I would say, in the full-moon evenings of our relationship there also dawns a moonless evening – dark, worrisome and weak.

After each of our seminars and events, I and one of my brother prefer to meet for a personal time of analysis. Like that after one of our events, I went to meet my brother. While on the way I was thinking since I had hosted the event effectively, there is nothing more to discuss about the event just we will discuss the follow-up plans. But as we start our discussion, his opening line was, “Avinash, I am not at all happy the way you hosted the event yesterday.” Making the long story short, he scolded me like an elder brother and showed all my faults from tip to toe. As a matter of fact, he also scold me for the way I stood and walked while taking the sessions. I left his house with a heavy and discouraged heart and almost for a couple of days the only question that was bothering me was – “Am I so hopeless and so uncultured? How can he talk like this? Am I a big failure – a big zero?” After some time one more question came to my mind which answered all my questions and pushed me to mature thinking – “WHY DID HE NOTICE ME SO KEENLY ALL THE TIME?”

Those who loves us deeply, they always judges us quickly. A good soul shows us the mirror, not to humiliate us for our mistakes but to humble us and exalt us to a glorious standard without flaterring us.

An English proverb says, “Intent is prior to Content”. Taking one of the inside looks of the breaking of relationships can be ‘immature thinking’. In a relationship when our beloved one shows us our shortcomings, we immediately bracket them as the fault-finder of our life. We start looking at them through the eyes of an enemy. Whereas the reality of the story is too sacred. A person with good intent will always be the one who keeps a close eye on us so that he can show us our shortcomings and help us grow to the glorious standards of life. Joining for the round of applause is always easy and a public expression whereas often time the intent of the praiser is evil.

Relationship is always PROTO to an individual’s existence. Following the PROTOness of relationship comes the importance of loving and sacrificing for one another that grooms the relationship. As LOVE – SACRIFICE & GOOD UNDERSTANDING (MATURE THINKING) coalesce the bonding in the relationship grows from strength to strength and the beauty becomes exemplary.

The Bible says,

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up,

just as you are doing.

“PROMISE” – IS IT JUST A WORD?

It is said, “PROMISE is a big word. It either makes something or breaks everything.”

Well, one of our Indian movies has intensified it to higher ground, “It is easier to win someone’s trust and it is more easier to break it. But TOUGH is, ‘to sustain that trust’.” 

In the mid of this year, I was invited to join a National Conference at Shillong in October. Wow, Shillong! Who gonna miss it! Of course, ‘YES’ I replied. But after a couple of months, I received my University exam time table and somehow a 3 days gap between a couple of my papers offered me a break. As opportunities costs, I was asked to pay for the cancellation of my one-way train ticket and buy an air ticket. Penny-pinching and after a week-long thought-through I convinced myself to block the deal. Finally the day dawn, as likely my plan, I took the second-half break from the office and went to write the paper. Soon after, I called a cab for the airport to take the evening flight for Guwahati after 2 hours and then en route to Shillong by road. But as always, “human plans greatly whereas he has no idea what’s going to happen in next hour”, exactly so my cab took the U-turn and was stranded in the traffic for an hour. By the time, my cab driver gets space to sneak out for another route (of course, only possible on Indian roads:)) to the airport, I crossed my check-in time. One side, I was cursing my driver and another side blaming God, “how can you be so rude to me? Being an Almighty God, can’t you somehow give me a free road?”  Exhaust and down emotion, I reached the airport 15 minutes late to the scheduled departure of my flight. But to my surprise, my flight was flying 40 minutes late, as I stepped into the airport, my flight touched the ground and was taxing towards the terminal. With ‘let’s try’ thinking, I went for boarding pass and asked the executive, ‘I know I’m late to board your aircraft but I come to know your aircraft to Guwahati is flying late. And he slapping me with his words said, Sir, you are late than our delayed flight, YOU CANNOT BOARD THE FLIGHT. On my second request, he said, let me try Sir if it works! Again to surprise he handover the boarding pass and said, Sir, run to terminal 19, the gate is about to open. Hold on, the story doesn’t end there, there’s something for life-risk as well. By the time I land, Guwahati was raining like cats and dogs. Still praying, I got a brand new cab to Shillong, hungry and tired around 11 P.M I asked the driver, Sir, how long it will take to Shillong and can we stop somewhere for dinner. He replied, sure sir, around 1AM we will reach the Dhaba but Sir we must pray that there should not be any landslide. The way it is raining, I’m sure there will be landslide somewhere. After an hour, that skillful driver was good enough to turn the steering just in a few inches away from landslide. At 3 AM, I reached Shillong but again surprising my host was out of reach and I was in a drug-paddlers locality. With a bit more struggle, I got the connection of my other contact and finally, I got shelter.

Yes, as you think, my parents suggested me to cancel the trip and in fact, while facing each of the challenges I thought to withdraw from my “YES” to the conference organizers. But each time, one verse from the Bible went strong enough to convince me –

Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ 

Anything more comes from the evil one.

Promises are always made at the present time and mostly it is made about its future implications but the uncertainty of the future always appears as a challenge. As the future becomes present, at the most time it enfolds an awful lot of challenges. Logically, promises might be expressed with the help of word-formation but it isn’t just a word. The sustainability of our promise words shapes our identity – our character – our strengths – our understanding and majorly the other person’s TRUST. 

The well-known and well-uttered flamboyant phrase of our time is, “Heaven and earth may pass by but I will be with you at all times. You were meant for me”. But alas, since we tend to jettison our primary promises in most of our affairs we are experiencing more shattered relationships rather than the previous decades put together. Ironically, the British author Dr. John R. W Stott in one of his book on civilized society and its problems with morals and civility said,

“Many of the happenings of our civilized society would not exist if it were not for human sin. A promise is not enough, we need a contract. Doors are not enough, we need to lock and bolt them. The payments of fairs are not enough, we need to be with tickets that are punched, inspected and collected. Laws are not enough, we need the Police to enforce them. All these things and many others to which we have grown as a custom than we have taken them for granted are due to our sin. WE CANNOT TRUST EACH OTHER, WE NEED PROTECTION FROM ONE ANOTHER. It is a sorry state of affairs.”

CHILDREN – SIMPLE YET SUBLIME

One verse of the Bible says, “Children are the gifts of God” and another verse says, “Every good and perfect thing comes from the LORD Almighty”.

I worked for Child development for 5yrs and had come across many children almost on a daily basis but there are 3 major incidents where the kids who are hardly able to tie their shoelaces have taught me some pretty great lessons.

Once I took my 6yr niece to a candy store and asked her which chocolate she wants. She took “Kinderjoy” (for girls) and casually I pulled a 10/- note and gave it to the storeman but instead of collecting the money he just laughed at me. Cluelessly, I was looking at the shopkeeper and my niece in return gave me a satirical look. The shopkeeper said brother one Kinderjoy cost 45/- not 10/-. Though my niece didn’t utter a word but her peculiar look was enough to tell me, “Do you think, I’m a fool. Don’t underestimate me”.

After a few years of that incident, one of my Uber drivers was sharing his son’s story. He took his 5yr son to the doctor since he was suffering from cough and cold. Before prescribing medicine doctor asked the kid, “Son, this syrup will taste bitter but it is good for your health. Will you be able to eat it or shall I give you another one?” The kid replied, “No, I will eat it”. Later at night, the father gave medicine but the kid found difficult to gulp it. Seeing the struggle of his son, the father said, leave it Beta (Son), I will exchange it in the morning with a sweeter one. But the 5yr kid’s replied, “No, I have promised Doctor uncle to eat this, I will try to eat this medicine Paapa”.

The 3rd and the most beautiful story was the story of a slumdog whom I met in the Kolkata local bus someday of November 2017. It was almost quarter to 10:00 P.M,  a skinny shabby looking 12yr kid stepped into the bus shouting “Chocolate lelo, chocolate, dus mein char chocolate” (take 4 chocolates in Rs. 10). Some passengers took candies from him, some shouted at him and as he approached me, I took 4 candies paying the double amount. I also shared my seat with him and enquired about his background. His father is a security guard but spends all his money on drinking and the elder brother doesn’t do anything. Every day this boy wakes up at 6:00 A.M and goes for free tuition class and after that, he goes to school around 10:00 A.M. He comes back from school around 3:00 P.M and within an hour he takes his candy box and catches the local bus from DumDum to New Town selling candies and then from New Town he catches another bus for New Market. Again from New Market, he changes another bus to New Town, at New Town, he stops to have snacks and packs dinner for him & his mother, then boards another bus to DumDum. This is his everyday story, around 11:00 P.M or quarter to 12:00 P.M he reaches home.

Stacia Tauscher:

“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” 

Indeed! In our matured mind boosting our wisdom and knowledge, we tend to look down on children. In our worries for their future, we ignore their present potentials and maturity. Whereas, God has exactly created them in His own image and has given them the conscience having wisdom and knowledge. Though physically they are smaller than us yet at times their mental outwork is more matured than us.

In fact, the sublimity of their hearts in the simplicity of their nature has enfolded one of the greatest queries of matured minds. While Jesus lived as a human being on earth, one of his disciples asked him, “Teacher, tell us who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven”. Jesus took a child and said; “Truly, I tell you unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

RECAPTURING LIFE IN THE HOSPITAL

Someone said –

“Airports see more kisses than wedding halls. And hospital walls have heard more prayers than church walls.”

Indeed! Each of the hospital beds and walls has hidden many heart-wrenching stories. If we start jotting down such stories of our lives at the hospital, it would show us the real picture of human life.

Jotting down a couple of my hospital experiences:

While in high school, I met with an accident in which one of the nerves of my brain was badly damaged. This caused memory loss for a few hours and later on resulted in a severe headache. Mom took me to consult the Neurosurgeon. While in the waiting hall, a 70-year-old man was sitting by my side having the same neurological issues. But his condition was worse than mine. His head was twisted completely to the right and he had lost his speaking ability. His screams of pain were terrible. Honestly, I have never seen any human in such horrendous pain. Those screaming sounds and the scene is still alive in my mind.

After a few years, the second terrible experience I had, was seeing the death of my only younger cousin sister. It was the late night of 5th January 2010. My only younger cousin sister was on the ventilator. She was breathing with the help of a machine. We, as a family prayed for her fervently as we waited in the hospital. Mom asked me to go to the washroom to rinse a tiffin box. When I came back from the washroom, all of a sudden I saw that my beloved only younger sister stopped breathing. I ran to the doctor, but the doctor just covered her facing telling us ‘sorry’. She was the closest person to my heart and my secret keeper.

Though I have never been hospitalized, yet everytime as I try to recapture my hospital experiences it always reminds me of a Bible verse –
“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; when the wind passes over, it vanishes, and its place remembers it no more.”

As we look at life through these stories the question that we need to ponder upon is –
“everyday we proceed to our graveside and we have no guarantee about our existence tomorrow, so think –
“FOR WHAT DO WE TAKE PRIDE OF OUR LIVES?”

LOVE – FORGIVENESS & JUSTICE EMBRACING EACH OTHER IN ONE PICTURE.

In my imaginative visit, I was in the shopping mall with my Dad and I got attracted towards the luxurious bone china made Nymphenburg Adonis dinnerware, as I proceed towards the crystal glass made dinnerware shelf, I thought to hold it and feel the touch but as a result, being a kid I was unable to balance the weight of the serving bowl and it fell from my hand.

The noise of breaking the bowl alarm the salesman, he yelled and took me to the manager. I was fined to pay the cost of the complete dinner set but I am just a kid, even it is impossible for me to have at least 50 bucks in my pocket, how can I pay Rs. 16,100/-.

At that point, my father had to jump into the picture to pay the wages of my mistake. He apologized to the manager, paid for my mistake and took me home. He was unhappy with my action yet he understood my weakness and absurdity.

As we drove back, he just smiled at me and said,

“SON, I EXPECT YOU WILL NOT REPEAT YOUR MISTAKE”.

IN THE MIDST OF THE FEAR OF LOSING SOMEONE

INSECURITY FEELING (the fear of losing someone/something) is quite apparent in human life. In fact, every now and then we wrestle with this fear. We all have noticed Mom always protects their babies putting pillows around them when he/she is alone in bed. We are advised to walk on the footpath because there is the possibility of the accident if we walk on the road. On a larger point, it would not be wrong to cap our 21st century as a “Password-Protected” generation. Whether it is to get some cash or login to our desktops or unlocking the doors of our posh houses, we all need “passwords”, but WHY? 

Well, the answer is too simple “WE ARE AFRAID OF LOSING OUR BELOVED PEOPLE AND OUR CHOICEST BELONGINGS!”

I strongly believe there are good replacements when we lose our choicest materials. A couple of weeks back accidentally I broke my cell phone and the next week I took a new one of higher configuration. All that the new device asked me to do is to sync it to my Google account to restore all of my data. BUT ALAS… THERE IS NO PROPER REPLACEMENT RELATIONSHIP.

Often in life, we come to such a place,

It becomes too difficult to make a choice.

Fear of losing people seems so grisly,

Our mind stops working repeatedly.

As we try to take one more step with courage,

Fear of losing people again surrogates.

Dear God, this is the place where I’m standing today,

Can’t You take this fear of losing people far away???

Last year, as I was navigating through the fear of losing one of my beloved people, this is what I was praying for quite a long time. Well, neither God answered in my desired way nor He removed the sting of fear. But as always He is mysterious in all His ways, He tried to train my mind through it. Probably, He is confident enough about the permanence and goodness of the fear of losing our beloved ones in our life.

In this good fear, the characters and situations are timely replaced but the fear is always punctuated to our life. Positively thinking, this good fear works as FENCE in all our relationships. It not only restricts us from crossing the ethical and moral peripheries of our relationships but also elevates the relationship to a glorious plateau.

Considering another side of the paradoxical nature of “INSECURITY FEELING”, we are easily victimized by losing the peace of our mind. In the anxiety of insecure feelings, we lean towards the unethical and inappropriate ways of gripping our relationships. Jealousy, harsh behavior, and abusive words start butchering our relationships which gradually results in losing our beloved ones.

IN THE MIDST OF THE FEAR OF LOSING SOMEONE, we need to adopt two basic ideas:

  1. CONTROL YOUR ANXIETY: Insecure feeling gives rise to an anxious mind and anxious mind always lacks peace and wild in thinking. Any decision that is taken in anxiety is extremely partial, self-centered and sinful in nature.
  2. TRUST GOD: As we realize a particular situation is beyond our control and the possibility of losing someone will be too costly, we look for help outside of us. Usually, we don’t seek help from a stranger, we seek only from trusted ones. When it is about ” TRUSTING SOMEONE” the best option I would prefer is “GOD” because He is not like a human who can change in a moment.

God is the source of PEACE & POSSIBILITY and WISDOM & UNDERSTANDING. And all that we lack in fear is exactly that! We run out of peace, we only see hopelessness and understanding seem impossible to us.

As we trust God in the midst of fear of losing someone and pray to Jesus instead of responding to our fears, the peace of God dawns on our minds. In the peace of mind, we got able to understand both ends of the situation – our own and our beloved ones. This understanding guards our hearts and mind to make the right choice.

That’s what in the Bible I learned,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”