Thursday, September 15, 2016

Drooping Limbs

Here is this person that I have to deal with every time I visit my bank. He is always at the front desk. The reason for his position could be that he is disabled. He cannot do tasks other than greeting the visitors and helping them to fill out forms. As the result of a stroke, his left hand is paralysed and his speech is impaired. His left hand dangles from the edge of his shoulder. It is practically useless. When he wants to place it on the table he has to use his healthy right hand to lift it. It is so sad.
I used to wonder what is the use of carrying that hand around when it cannot do anything. However, he will not amputate that hand for the simple reason that it is very much part of him. It defines who he is. Without that hand, he will be a single-handed person. Without that hand, his body will lose it symmetry and also beauty. Though useless, he doesn’t ignore it when wearing a shirt. He treats it as a good hand, at least good for a shirt on. It is limited but the right hand is always there for it.
The sight of this man and his hands helps me to understand the biblical metaphor of the body for the Church and each congregation. 1 Corinthians 12 elaborates on the nature, diversity and function of the members of the body of Christ. One of the main foci of this chapter is on the mutual care of the members.
"… there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together." (1 Cor 12:24-25, ESV).
Every congregation has people of diverse character and abilities. This diversity is the advantage. This makes the weak feel secure because they are surrounded by the strong ones. The strong ones feel complete because they have their weaker ones to create a complete picture. They altogether feel happy and looks so beautiful because in spite of weakness and strength, together they are one unified picture and wonderful harmony.

Friday, September 02, 2016

The Dog Van and the Snake Van

The city of Pune where I presently live is a haven of activists. You can’t cut a tree in your garden—the environmental activists are watching. Don’t stare at a stray dog—animal rights people are all over. However, you can call the animal welfare department when you spot a stray dog or a snake.
If you spot a snake in your garden, then dial a specified number and they will come with their snake van, catch it. They will take it to the snake sanatorium. Every Tuesday, they release them back to the wild. A lot of development is happening all over the city. It results in snakes and other wild animals losing their habitats and food. So, they have to stray into private properties and gardens.
So, one day my moment to be a proud animal lover came. I spotted a snake, hurried home to to call the Snake Van people. Nobody picked up my call, by the time I returned to make sure the snake is still there, someone had killed it. If you are lucky to get through to the snake welfare department, and if the snake you spotted is lucky too, then they may come in their van to catch it. These lucky snakes get another lease of life.
Now, the Dog Van also works the same way. If your neighbourhood has stray dogs all that you have to do is punch the number of this department. And sit back! They may or may not come. If your stars are favourable, they may turn up.
You will know if they are coming or not. By the time they are at the gate of the 25 acre campus where we live, every single dog disappears! They come in their van with dogs that they have already caught in cages. Some may be barking and some howling, unhappy with their bondage. The strays pick up the scent of the new prisoners. Their fears are confirmed by the howling and barking of the agitated captives. Maybe they are warning their fellow-creatures to run for their lives. They are concerned that this misfortune should not fall on them too.
The snakes in the snake van just crawl in a corner of the cage when caught. Each time the snake catchers come (if they ever come), they catch more snakes. There is no one to warn them. Their own kin who were caught don’t realise there is danger.
When I was much younger, I was fooled by a mugger on my very first visit to Mumbai. With some hand-tricks, he just walked away with my money and gave me an empty wallet. I was ashamed to tell this to anyone. In order to get some help, I had to disclose this to a few friends anyway.
The news reached my friend’s father who was a sort of mentor to me. One day, when I paid him a visit he asked me how did my visit to Mumbai go. I said, everything was perfect and really enjoyed it! He prodded and I had to tell him how that mugger walked away with my money. Then came the question: ‘Why do you keep away this from your friends?’ Obviously, I didn’t have an answer. The wise man, he continued after a contemplative pause. ‘See son!’ He continued. ‘Only if you share what happened to you with your friends, they will be watchful. By telling them what happened to you, you will help them to watch out and avoid what happened to you.’
That was like an apple falling on my head. Honest admission of our failures can help others. Like the dogs in the Dog Van, they are probably ashamed that they were not smart enough not to be caught. They howl at the top of their voice to warn others to avoid what happened to them. What happened to them is shameful, but they don’t want to add to this guilt as well—guilt of not warning others. So, it is a narrow choice of shame and guilt; I think in such situations it is better not be guilty.

Life and Light

'For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light' Psalm 36:9.   When David sang to God, 'For with you ...