Friday, December 30

Happy New Year ...





"Happy New Year 2012"




"Happy New Year 2012"

Saturday, December 24

... year end thoughts on Grace

Christmas is all about the grace that God extended to humanity.  The simplicity of that grace is idealized in the birth Jesus took-up in a manger. Each time I fathom that grace, it stupefies my thinking and sees the world in a mystical tone and magnificent color. Yes, the whole of the planet is an outpouring of God’s grace. However, within me, this virtue of that humbling grace fights against all the greed and fear of a city life. At this end of the year, I am confronted with another new year of market stress. Uncertainties loom over most of the economies of the world… and yet, there is hope that God’s Grace Lives within all these storms of life. That is just one thought that I wish to keep glowing. 



" You think about what you are experiencing and why. Do you deserve this, this fantastic experience? Have you earned this in some way?  Are you separated out to be touched by God, to have some special experience that other cannot have? And you know that the answer to that is no. There’s nothing you’ve done to deserve this, to earn this; it’s not a special thing for you. You know very well at that moment, and it comes through to you so powerfully, that you are the sensing element for man… You are up here as a sensing element, that point out on the end, and that is a humbling feeling. It’s a feeling that says you have a responsibility. It’s not for yourself. The eye that doesn’t see doesn’t do justice to the body….And somehow you recognize that you are a piece of this total life. And you’re out there on that forefront and you have to bring it back somehow. And that become a rather special responsibility, and it tells you something about your relationship with this thing called life. So that’s a change. That’s something new…. There is a difference in that relationship between you and that planet and you and all those other forms of life on that plant … and it’s so precious."  
    Quoted from Russell Schweickart -- 
the astronaut who was the Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 9 space mission in 1969.
He was looking deep upon the planet Earth from outer space and commenting on his status in God’s creation story.  

***
Photo location: Calicut Beach


Thursday, December 22

Away in a Manger ...



"Away in a Manger" makes me a little child every Christmas.  
This short Carol embody the magic of the birth of Christ and  
I love this carol most . 
My Christmas is never complete without 
becoming a child , "Away in a Manger" !

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I wish all  my friends
a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

May the Blessed Lord keep us every moment of our days ahead !!

  

Wednesday, December 21

... the call of the sea





MUCH have you given to me,
Yet I ask for more -
I come to you not merely for the draught
  of water, but for the spring;
Not for guidance to the door alone, but
  to the Master's hall;
  not only for the gift of love,
  but for the lover himself. 

****


'TRAVELLER, where do you go?
' I go to bath in the sea in the redd'ning dawn, 
   along the tree-bordered path.'
'Traveller, where is that sea?'
'There where this river end its course,
   where the dawn opens into morning,
   where the day droops to the dusk.
'Traveller, how many are they who come with you?'
'I know not how to count them.
They are travelling all night with their lamps lit,
   they are singing all day through land and water.'
'Traveller, how far is the sea?'
'How far is it we all ask.
The rolling roar of its water swells to the sky
  when we hush our talk.
It ever seems near yet far.'
'Traveller, the sun is waxing strong.
'Yes, our journey is long and grievous.
Sing who are weary in spirit , 
  sing who are timid of heart.'
'Traveller, what if the night overtakes you'
'We shall lie down to sleep 
  till the new morning dawns with its songs, 
  and the call of the sea floats in the air.'




***
Poems from Tagore's 'Crossing' 
Photos were taken at my favorite 'hermitage' : the Kappad Beach (at Calicut Coast). This is the beach where  the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed in 1498, to rewrite the maritime history of  India.  



Sunday, December 18

Last week in Advent

This the last week in Advent... Christmas is near.
I am remindful of the importance of yet another Christmas season in my life.
World has changed a lot since last Christmas. And the world will continue to change and transform.   My fear  and anguish is that whether God will find room for his manger in all these happenings?
***  

... thoughts on Christmas Tree.

I remember my friend Deepak’s  visit to my home one December evening. He had come to sell me a Christmas tree.

Since childhood, come Christmas, I have always had a Christmas tree at home. An old man would bring us an evergreen coniferous. Putting up the tree was the duty of sisters’ and other neighborhood girls.  One by one, they would take those colorful danglers, festoons, and balloons and hang them on the tree. Those were the days when Christmas Greetings came through cards. These cards too found their place on the tree. The old man who brought us the coniferous was happy too. He was always gifted with a Christmas gift to have his pint of whiskey. Soon, later years, he found it difficult to get us the coniferous. There were no more of them in the surroundings.  The public places from where he used to filch these branches were under the scanner of local authority.  One day, the old man of the Christmas tree passed away. That closed our affair with the Christmas tree for a long time.

Years rolled away. Sisters grew up. They left home upon marriage.  Somewhere at home, all the danglers, used for tree-decorations were stashed away in a paper carton.  Like many things in life, growing up took away some joys of Christmas from me. The Childhood magic of making a Christmas tree was one of them.  Not that I was not interested in Christmas, but that the interest became more ‘intellectual’ than emotional… more thought provoking than festoons, colored danglers or balloons.

My slackness to Christmas tree took a ‘beating’ only upon my marriage. Puthri, my wife, came into my life with all the steam and the fire of a sparkling Merry Christmas! Since marriage, every year, Puthri insisted me to put up a bright white star and a Christmas tree at home. The trouble then was that, evergreen coniferous weren’t available in my locality during the Christmas season. Also, cutting them down and using it was a controversial matter. In doing so, I was destroying a living tree for keeping up a fable!

Last year, when trekking, I was taken aback seeing all the huge coniferous forests of lower Himalayas. They were the pines that immediately called my attention to the Christmas trees of my youth. The main reason was their scent. There is a distinct aroma in the pine forests of Himalayas. The needle leaves of the Christmas tree too wore them. So, I could make a connection with my childhood while in those forests!

Today I know that I cannot have the luxury of God grown coniferous to host my Christmas ambitions. Yet the magic of the Christmas tree lives on. Thanks Deepak, for the effort you took to bring me a man-made Christmas tree and sell it. Thank God, like my Christmas, my Christmas tree has lived all these 8 years, evergreen! 



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
" The traditional "Christmas tree" is a very ancient custom, which exalts the value of life, as in winter the evergreen becomes a sign of undying life. In general, the tree is decorated and Christmas gifts are placed under it. The symbol is also eloquent from a typically Christian point of view: It reminds us of the "tree of life" (Holy Bible,Genesis 2:9), representation of Christ, and God’s supreme gift to humanity.

The message of the Christmas tree, therefore, is that life is "ever green" if one gives: not so much material things, but of oneself: in friendship and sincere affection, and fraternal help and forgiveness, in shared time and reciprocal listening."
Blessed John Paul II, 2004
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Friday, December 16

... a search for God.


"Our search for God is only our response to God's search for us. God knocks at our door, but for many people their lives are too preoccupied for them to be able to hear.
Each of us needs an opportunity to be alone, and silent, to find space in the day or in the week, just to reflect and to listen to the voice of God that speaks deep within us."

...Cardinal Basil Hume





" More and more , 21st century people are finding it more difficult to dwell in a universe inhabited by unseen presence of God... Our world has been reduced to what is physical, what can be measured, seen, touched, tasted and smelled. That means we have become mystically tone-deaf, for all the goods that matter are in the shop window." 

... Fr. Ron Rolheiser

***
Photo locations (a) Beypore Fishing Harbor (b)  Banks of River Chaliyar, Mavoor

Friday, December 9

When Romans thought of becoming Christians ...

When Romans thought of becoming Christians, the picture of a Christ with flowing beard and body hair was unacceptable to them. The Greeks and the Romans considered men with grown hair and unshaven face to be barbarians. It is said that even in the war front, Alexander the Great took time to groom his hair and shave. The young and fighting Alexander was always portrayed in clean-shaven face.

The universal nature of Christianity has put great emphasis to accept the best of the local world and build their faith upon it.  I have understood that in my own approach to faith. How can I disassociate myself from my motherland … disassociate from her language and arts, disassociate from her music and sounds? In fact, ancient fathers of faith blended their newfound faith in Christianity with their age-long roots in local arts and culture.  This has brought in a magnificent history and colorful plurality to the universal Christian church.



As Christmas is fast approaching, one challenge that I face is to find and accept plurality within Christianity and plurality between different faiths. I thought that this Advent season, I will give room for this thought. Jesus came into the world for the whole of humanity. Hence, a catholic nature to Christian faith is an important dimension of its signature.  But one can appreciate this universality of faith only  when  we probe into our own relationship with our personal faith. Only when we understand our standing in faith can we accommodate other’s ethos and beliefs. In a multi-cultural society like India, this is very significant. 


  
In the above two paintings done by Sr.Claire, Child Jesus, Joseph, Mary and the rest of the flocks are all Indians!! Isn't that great !

***
Acknowledgements: Paintings were produced by St. Paul Communications for the promotion of Christian Indian Art 
***

Wednesday, December 7

A victory song when God become Husband ...


“Sing, O barren woman,
       you who never bore a child;
       burst into song, shout for joy,
       you who were never in labor;
       because more are the children of the desolate woman
       than of her who has a husband,” says the LORD.

“Enlarge the place of your tent,
     stretch your tent curtains wide,
     do not hold back;
     lengthen your cords,
     strengthen your stakes.



For your Maker is your husband
    the LORD Almighty is his name….”  

*** 
Quoted from the Holy Bible ( Isaiah  54: 1,2 &5)
Photo : Barren hills spouting with beautiful flowers 
and  a  lonely tent by the mighty frozen mountains …
Photo  Location: Himalayan  Mountains  


Tuesday, November 29

Peddling to freedom …




One of the reasons I love riding a bicycle or trekking is that it gives me plenty of time to think and to meditate.  Every time I am on a trail, long or short, I keep thinking to myself all about that I am : Who are the newsmakers in my town? What are the news they make? … Then another frequent question that rolls out is to figure out who is better or worse than I am. Sometimes these questions will take miles out of my trail ... mile out of my peddling.  I do not really remember peddling 40 Km. or so with these thoughts ringing in my heart, because the empty tracks just pass away.

However, are these questions and thoughts important to God? I think it is unimportant to God. I don’t think God like the idea of me fixing a little niche in humanity over and against other people. What is more important is to understand my smallness in God’s plan and repent for all the wrongs that I have done to His creation. 




This feeling of the wrong doings to God’s creation must bring to me a freedom from all the arrogance, from all the judgments, and from all the condemnations that I make in my thoughts and deeds.

Next peddling must be free from the countless hours making up my mind about others. Why should I be satiated with an unceasing exchange of opinions about people close by or far away.  I think, I myself is the first person that needs a change ...  I myself is the great newsmaker that needs a change of heart ...  and probably the only once whose heart I indeed can change! 
I think riding a bicycle is a great fun and enjoyment...
and I am lucky enough to do what I enjoy!





 Peddling to freedom through these empty tracks is an absolute fun and a smooth thrill. This sleepy town is yet to wake-up to a beautiful Advent morning ...

****

Saturday, November 12

... the dumb beast



"In the glance of a dumb beast is speech understood by the souls of the wise."                                                    
                                                                                          ....  AN INDIAN POET







Monday, November 7

Just as I am ...



I have been waiting… 
not knowing what to think, what to read, what to pray.
Yet, there is an urge in me, to think, to read, to pray.
And, some of the long days have passed by…
    some of the uncertain ideas kissed me bye.
God tried to talk with me. I couldn’t listen. He said He would try another time.
I am just as I am. 

I ask the Lord to guide me…
    least I do not trespass areas and people who doesn't  need me.
Like the weakening rains at the tail end of the monsoon, 
life is all poised for a change.
How can I be, just as I am? 


I find it difficult to pen.  Why?
Have I drained off all my thoughts away?
The daily living has held me tight in her bosom:  making the home and helping the family.
The daily office and the workouts…the daily people and the places… 
       they all form my daily living...
Just as I am.   

I have been attempting to read, to think, and to pray. 
Yet, I have fallen short of it all.  
I must start to light candles again...I must start to smell the early blooms of the weakening rain.
I must start to break the silence that has retarded my spirits and the evenings that has stolen my zest.
I must start to spark the day with joy and long lost nights with love.  
I must start... Just as I am 

Waiting is a difficult emotion,
People light candles for an immediate motion.
"God, come, come quickly!" 

Yet, I sit somewhere quietly ... (I know God wouldn't come so quickly) !
I am just as I am.






****

Tuesday, November 1

November 2nd .... All Souls' Day



"God, you turn men back to dust, saying,
“Return to dust, O sons of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.  
You sweep men away in the sleep of death;
they are like the new grass of the morning —
though in the morning it springs up new,
                      by evening it is dry and  withered"


"God, we are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation.

You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. All our days pass away under your wrath; 
we finish our years with a moan.

      ...they are like new grass of the morning,
though in the morning it springs up new,
by evening it is dry and withered...

The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, 
for they quickly pass, and we fly away."




“Lord God, who knows the power of your anger? 
For your anger is as great as the fear that is due you.
Teach us to number our days aright, 
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”


*** Verses from the Holy Bible (Psalm 90) 

Wednesday, October 12

Wednesday, October 5

taking home a new bike ...

Turning 47 wasn’t a young affair. Still, I wanted to feel young.  October 1st was my Birthday.

The rains have ended and the sun has kissed all the flowers. They look eager to welcome the light. My daughter wanted to have her photo done with a bunch of bloom.

A friend of mine, Mr. Cherian, was bringing home his Harley Davidson. The best part of it was that, he insisted that I share a major part of the driving.  On my Birthday, we decided to take home his dream bike.  Between my friend and me, that would be something that we’ll remember for a long while!

I don’t think I will ever get a chance to ride a brand-new Harley from the showroom to home ever in my lifetime. Then, when one gets a chance, why keep away?

We reached the showroom to be greeted by the salespersons and the staff. My friend and I were dressed up for the long drive home: windcheaters, goggles, gloves, helmets, and boots.  After the briefings on the salient features of the bike, it was time to take the key.

12:00 noon, we got our Harley on the road. It was an absolute fun to have this great machine switched ON.  The distinguishing beat was in the air. All the glittering chrome came alive in the soft sun. Amidst lots of curious eyes, we were the real heroes on Bangalore – Calicut highway.   Driving on, many car drivers came near us, lowered their glasses, and took deep look at our bike. Some wanted to know the cost, while others wanted to congratulate us. We responded to all of them with a gentle smile. We had mile to go and promises to keep… that thought pulled us through a difficult metro traffic jam.  The first 80 Km was the break-in crucial drive.  My friend took it with ease.  After 100 Km, it was my turn to ride the bike.

2:00 PM … Heavy rains accosted us. We had to stop and wear our rain gears. I was little apprehensive about the ride. Yet, we kept on driving. I could feel and hear the raindrops falling on the helmet-visor and the gush of the air that we cut through.  I could sense how well the bike was responding to the brakes and the acceleration. Rain was no problem for the speed!  Most times, tachometer showed 80 Km/hr. Still, my friend was reminding me to reduce the speed. The headlight of the bike was simply superb! It was amusing to know that Harleys never have a switch to ON and OFF the headlight. By default, it was always kept ON whenever the machine is running. Many fellow motorists thought that we had left the headlight ON unknowingly.  Some of them overtook us and made signs to us that our headlight was beaming.  Zooming through the rain at 80-90 Km was fun because we felt the confidence of top class motoring on a heavy bike like Harley.

As the dusk settled and as there was a beautiful glow of the twilight in the sky, we were entering the reserve forest range on the highway.  We still had around 180 kilometers to drive. This thought kept me zooming. The forest guards were taken aback hearing the strange beat of the engine and the high beam of the headlight. They quickly understood that something different from conventional was approaching.  They signaled to stop and asked some irreverent questions.  Our answers convinced them. They kept beaming their flashlight on the bike’s chrome and kept waving their hands for us to keep going. We kept moving deep in the forest at top speed.  Time was around 8:30 PM. 

Everything new in life is like the art of driving a new bike:  we take a little time to understand and appreciate new vistas of joy and sorrow. Once we begin to understand,  we can take control of any life's situations. But there is one question that I will always ask myself: should I understand everything in my life? There are things in my life that I will never understand and yet, keep on driving! When I closely observe, most everything is unknown to the mortals. If I were to insist that I understand every bit of my earthly journey, then what fun life is all about ! ...where can a God of Surprises work in my life? To give space for a God of Surprises, there must be an unknown path, a few steps into little little daily adventures. The fun in life is just that : to keep on driving into unknown.  


After a tea-break, it took another 90 Km of careful drive for us to reach home. The last section of the drive was through the Western Ghats covering 9 deep hairpin bends. This section through reserve forest has no road illumination, and was the lowest point of the journey.  

It was 11PM as we reached home. And... I thank GOD, it was a job well done!

****


Sunday, September 25

City Saint...

Ethical gaps often exist between who we are and who we think we should be.  I have often been through this dilemma. I know that it is a moral hypocrisy that happens when my behavioral standards stoop below my own beliefs.  When I evaluate others, I do it at a substantially different elevated plateau while, my own self-evaluation of me is done at a different lower, fluid environment. Why?

It is true that a self-examination of my thoughts and deeds will throw an interesting picture to me : I am sympathetic to my failures, while I cannot contain others failures. In any public discussion on corruption, I have often thought how bad those who take money and do favors for others are. But I have eliminated me as a person who sometimes ‘tips’ others to have a job done ‘in speed’.  The other day when I drove to put in air in my car tires, there was a clear signage which told: ‘No Tips Please’.  Still, I gave the staff a small tip and he accepted it with all smiles. The ‘tip’ culture doesn’t start at the local garage or ends there. It goes on, especially in the everyday service sectors I utilize.
     
Sometimes, I have to re-frame a decision as a ‘general decision’, ‘group decision’ or as a ‘multiple head decision’ to increase the likelihood of disposing it unethically. There is always a simple thought that argumentatively support my conscience, when I take a questionable unethical stand: I may tell others, and myself “I did it for the world…. I did it for the organization… I did it for the committee.”  Yet, I ask, “Did I incorporate all the questions and answers when I took that decision? Or, did I brush aside and suppress some of the controversial aspects of the discussion away from the discussion table? ”

Someone said that there is a behavioral internal conflict between the ‘want self’ and the ‘should self’ in everybody’s life. At the time of a decision-making, it is the ‘want self’ that dominate while the ‘should self’ is discounted. Moreover, if the matters go well, 'want self'  is reinforced in my heart, forcing me to take a similar stand when the next similar occasion arises.

Sages took to prayer and penance for containing double standards.  How about me? I believe that only a self-examination and a conscious correction of this silent behavior will enhance my conscience from the double standards that I foster here and there.  

Friday, September 16

a name upon a page., writ in water in place of ink?



Is it that the nights pass by us
And destiny treads us underfoot?
Is it thus the ages engulf us and remember us not
    save as a name upon a page writ in water in
    place of ink?
Is this life to be extinguished
And this love to vanish
And these hopes to fade?

Shall death destroy that  which we build
And the winds scatter our words,
And darkness hide our deeds?

……

No, in truth, for the verity of life is life;
Life whose birth in not in the womb
Nor its end in death.

What are these years if not an instant in eternity? 

.....

Quoted from the poem 
                            'Letters of Fire' (from Kahlil Gibran’s ‘A tear and A Smile’)

Remembering my Aunt who passed away on this night of 2008.

***

Saturday, September 10

Solo rider ...

Today I wanted to journal this after my cycling....

A banal evening …
Sun has set… lights are ON everywhere.
Yet, I cycle through the unlighted road with a lighted joy.

It is a long road to ride and the rainy days aren’t over yet .
I am awakened to this evening of dampness... 
 and the profound calmness of incomplete rain.  


I see in the dark some fireflies here and there.
Like small sparks of joy, these fireflies live a life
          only to disappear  in the dawn.


As I am peddling up,
          the peloton of troubles and cares seems to have been overtaken...
              a joy of fresh breeze
          and the loneliness of an empty ride has taken over.  

Yet, every turn and every corner offer a quick wonder…
           God brakes into with a surprise!

Someone said that God could not offer His presence all the time.
Is He an ‘Only now and then’ God?
God wants me to live by faith… not by sight.

A bicycle rider too lives by faith… 
   faith in too many things and faith in too small things.

So, solo rider… go and learn to blaze…
  because God breaks-in and dwells, in all surprise!

***
Photo credit to Ben Ingham

Thursday, September 8

You are in my thoughts ....



To All My Dear Friends from Kerala,

You are in my thoughts as I enjoy 
my favorite 
Palada Paysam!!


Have a great Onam!!

... Abraham

Monday, September 5

Developing a different attitude to maturity…


As I mature, there is always a chance that I move with the daily crowd. Will I be ‘adjusted’ to the culture that is taking me for a ride? There is always a danger that society-living will pull me into its own value systems. Then,  suddenly I will find it difficult to run away from things I do not like to be a part of. Will this lead me to think that I am superior to all others? That too is a real danger in developing a different attitude to society. Yet, I have to see what I can take and what I can keep off…
In every society, there are people and peoples’ groups that choose to keep themselves aloof from the daily crowd around them. Japan has it, US has it, UK has it, Egypt has it, Turkey has it, and India has it. Often, media has stories of these peoples’ group for all wrong reasons.  So, where does an individual got to stand and find his rightful place in his society? 
One reading that often gets me into the root of this anxiety is to be found in the Book of Romans, in the Holy Bible. There St. Paul writes, 
I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Letter to Romans 12: 1 and 2)
This is a terrific message! I want to quote the same message from another translation of the Holy Bible made by Eugene Peterson that reads the same passage thus:   

So here’s what I want to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life –your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around-life and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. ( from ‘The Message’) 

***


Followers