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