Limned in Light

Some time back I’d made a post called Salt and Light, and when a few days after that, a friend of ours shared thoughts in church about what it meant being the light of the world, of course, I didn’t believe it was a coincidence. She said that it wasn’t enough to just know what light is, but that it was even more important to know what the nature of light is, and to inculcate those qualities in our lives.

Going through old photos I’ve taken, mulling over stories, truths and perspectives, I thought I would share some of these beautiful moments caught in time by a simple camera. None of these photos would have any beauty without light. The light reflects off, refracts, passes into and sometimes through, and limns in ways that always take my breath away. Most of the photos are from our week-long retreat in the mountains, taken in and around the house of friends who are closer than family, and a few are from about three years ago; some taken in the same place.

Beyond the shadow of doubt, light brings beauty out of, gives glory to, and reveals the best in things, often a beauty and glory they wouldn’t have had without the light.

The same crystal piece caught the light in extraordinary ways.

As a teacher, this is something I try and aspire to (often with many struggles and failings); to see the best in people and to try and bring it out. I’ve known people who are gifted in this, but have lately come to realise that they are all ordinary people like me who have made choices to think and look at things in a certain way, until it has become a habit. This gives a lot of hope to strugglers like me, and I can make room for God to work in my heart knowing that when He is about His work fashioning something, it is always going to take the breath away. He has a way of shining His light in and through us that brings the best out in us, if we would have it.

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Neon Tetras I had about three years ago – fragile, delicate and amazing.

The play of light on candle and cane.

Glow of night lamp.

Light without and light within.

Fire and smoke.

Light, shadow and polish.

In this post I wanted to catch the play of light indoors; to capture something of the feeling of home and hearth, but the feast of light on leaf, tree, forest and flower, I’ll keep for the next post!

Till then I hope these photos keep dreams of better things alive, and may the light of God limn you in ways beyond your imagining, and may you find your real beauty in Him; beauty that the world can neither give nor take away.

It’s not coincidence that you visited this page.

What Would I Do?

It’s just past Christmas, but it already seems a year away. It almost felt as if it never came into this smog-enshrouded, angry city of New Delhi. However, there’s a song about this down below if you continue to read!

My Christmas was messy. What with a hectic end to school term, dealing with death, fatigue and many people to meet, things to wind up as well as follow through on, my family had no time to prepare for Christmas before we left for our retreat. We got back the day before Christmas and still weren’t able to get things up, even on Christmas day. The retreat was so good that it made the return a little hard to adjust to!

And then it struck me…Jesus’ birthday was harried, messy, highly stressful and very vulnerable. A far cry from the elaborate (albeit often good-intentioned) efforts we put in to get our homes and families ready for the season. All of Joseph’s and Mary’s good intentions were scuttled by the labour pains coming on, giving them no time for preparation, as they had to travel a long way to report to Bethlehem for the census. I can’t imagine the frustration they may have felt at the unwanted and dangerous journey (for a heavily pregnant woman) they had to make. But it was something God allowed and used.

All our days before Christmas were invested in people, giving us little time for rest or shopping (and our stores don’t allow low-budget Christmas buying). With this realisation, the frustration slipped away, with the sense of having, in some way, shared in the difficulties Jesus and his earthly parents had faced during His birth, and what Jesus had faced serving people during His earthly life. This, I felt, was more ‘Christmas’ than the ridiculous videos of break-dancing Santas that well-intentioned, but clearly ignorant, friends and people were sending me.

In the glitz, glamour, and glittering, tinny triteness of christmas clamour without Christ, that feels like sand in the mouth, that sets the teeth on edge like a sip of vinegar, that angers and saddens in strange cadences of hot and cold flushes of disbelief and embarrassment, I felt the words Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 24:12, begin to ring in my head, ‘Then comes the time when many will lose their faith, and will betray and hate each other. Yes, and many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many people. Because of the spread of wickedness the love of most men will grow cold, though the man who holds out to the end will be saved.’ 

It’s easy to see what can cause love to be seduced away and for it to grow cold. I had written a song before we left for our retreat, about these thoughts, and I want to share it with you. It’s a simple recording made on my phone, but should suffice for now until I can get a better recording made. You’ll find the lyrics below the Audiomack player.

What Would I Do?  
© Indi Sundaram, December 2016. If you want to use this song or its lyrics, please write me for permission via the contact page, letting me know what you want to use it for, and I don’t think I will have many objections, if you give proper credits.  🙂

What would I do if it wasn’t Christmas coming around;
Would I still think of You if there wasn’t a tree?
In the summertime would I still say ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’?
Would this be the only season I think of Thee?

When I’m far from home would I still share Your Love?
Would I still buy gifts without a stocking to put them in?
Would I still sing ‘Gloria!’ when there are no carol rounds?
Are You just a day in the calendar when holidays begin?

I beg You,
Don’t let Your Memory depart!
I’ll hang Your Star
On the door of my heart!

Would I put away Your Presence with the star and the angels?
Would I turn off Your Light when I pack the tree away?
Will I stop giving gifts when the store has no Santa Claus?
Will Your Good News stay locked in my mouth till another year fades?

I beg You,
Don’t let Your Memory depart!
I’ll hang Your Star
On the door of my heart!

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

From What Was…To What Can Be

December 11 was a strange day.

In the death of our watchman’s baby (you can read about this in the post Red is the Colour of Pain, I had forgotten that it was my birthday. It was when I came back home exhausted physically and emotionally from the funeral, that I realised that my wife and daughter had actually planned something for me. It was a chocolate truffle cake (my wife knows that it’s one of my favourites), and they did something so creative that I was deeply moved. They each lit candles and stuck them one by one on the table around the cake, saying something for each candle that they loved me for.

It was a quiet time, made light and easy by my daughter’s fun-loving style and my wife’s good nature, but very personal and deep, and it started the healing process in its own way.

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My precious Two

Almost two weeks from that time, on the way back from a week’s retreat in the mountains, I still didn’t have all the answers to what had happened. However, what I do have is the continuing conviction of God’s goodness and wisdom at work, and the knowledge that through all of this, the love of God will work something out far greater and better than what I can imagine for this family. For as Jeremiah 29:11 says, God’s plans for us are not to harm us but to prosper us, and to give us a reasonable hope for the future. And surely this is what He longs for for this dear family. One very positive thing that has arisen from this is a sort of awakening; questions of whether their HIV+ condition is responsible for this and whether this can be prevented in the future. Such questions coming without compulsion are important because they help people to make decisions towards significant change in their lives.

The dear doctors who have helped us so much with this family are going to visit in the coming days, and who knows what hope for the future may arise from this meeting. I am never going to be able to forget this family with the baby’s death falling on my birthday, and perhaps that’s how it should be. How terrible to forget those who become as close as family, as our own flesh, through circumstance and choice.

On the journey just over a week ago on our retreat to the mountains, I had had a long chat with the waiter serving us in the train coach we were in. He was from a Rajput background (in Indian culture, it’s the line of noblemen and warriors), and was struggling with doing the chores that his job required him to do. In our trains, a waiter’s job is rather more like a glorified janitor’s job. The working hours are terrible and they’re poorly paid. The railways outsources the catering jobs on the high end trains to private companies that hire semi-literate or literate men to work for long hours at low pay. They get no benefits for working for the railways that government railway employees do. Anyway, I spent at least a couple of hours chatting with him and hearing his story of how his village people criticise him for doing the menial jobs that he does on the train. Although it was hard to give him solutions, it was easy to encourage and appreciate what he is doing to support his family. It seemed to mean the world to him that someone would spend time to chat. I had had the honour to pray for him as well and ask God on his behalf to help him with his dreams and aspirations.

Boarding the train on our return journey to Delhi I was able to find him in the same coach, and made some time to meet him when his duty eased off to chat and give him some books that I had packed for him.

As the two photos show, it’s hard to know which is the front end of the train. Life can sometimes be like that and very often people spend all their energy and time moving further and further into the past, living with regret and picking at wounds long scabbed over. However, God has healing in abundance held out to us if we would but receive it, and in the dealing with our fallen selves, He continues to hold out a future of hope in which there is no condemnation, no guilt or accusation, and in which He lavishes us with the love and trust that only a father can give. Christmas, for that reason, is so full of hope, because it’s the reminder of what Jesus came to do – to pay the price for the fallenness of this world so that anyone who wants may have what can be instead of what was.

And this is why I try to continue to hold out hope whenever I can to anyone I can.

Red is the Colour of Pain

Early this morning our watchman’s little baby boy died.

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Red is the Colour of Pain

After the miraculous escape from under the car, the child was due to have his casts removed in two days. Two nights ago, the child suddenly took ill, and had to be hospitalised the next morning, and yesterday morning and through the day, the child significantly improved. Last night, he took a turn for the worse, and all night, I had calls from the hospital and the mother. And this morning at about 5:30, in the cold, smog enshrouded, dreary Delhi winter morning, he slipped away.

The mother was inconsolable, having lost four children before this in similar circumstances. The father, was like a child lost in a forest. I had no words. All I could do was hold him and walk with him through the day.

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On the Ash-heap

Those of you who have been reading my posts regularly, will have some idea about this family, but for those of you who don’t, here is some background. Almost certainly HIV+ himself, the child was born to HIV+ parents 11 months ago in the village. The mother came back to Delhi to rejoin her husband with the 4 month old baby, very sick herself and looking like death. The parents seemed to have had no idea of their condition, and my family’s involvement was due to our being unable to accept the condition of the woman continuing under our very noses. These are illiterate, uneducated people, who have come to the city to earn something more than what they would be able to in the village. There is a tremendous amount of apathy, superstition and deeply entrenched habits and thinking. It has taken us months of involvement and prayer to see some change starting in them. The problems with the child started with an oral thrush, and since then it has been one thing after another, even as the parents’ condition improved with the starting of their anti-retroviral treatment. The greatest obstruction was the medical system, with the regular hospital refusing treatment to the child on the grounds that they don’t test children under 18 months for HIV. We had to run them to the government children’s hospital, where samples were taken and sent to the main institute for medical sciences for testing. Months later, we are yet to receive them, and no clinic will start any treatment without the corroborating documents. Apparently, the institute, since the last many months, hasn’t been sending back test results in time. I was hoping to try and get some contacts on the inside to try and facilitate the results getting back to us so that we could start some treatment. In the meantime, the child fell sick again and again. The parents have been slow to change feeding habits, keep the area clean, give greater, sensible care to the child, and take necessary precautions to avoid sickness. Any response to suggestion and medical advice has happened weeks and sometimes months later. And they have changed. They are qualitatively different people now. However, there is a long way to go before they would meet any minimum parental standards of childcare. The hospitals are unsympathetic; nurses and interns are rude, irritated and abrasive all the time. Private clinics are better, but very expensive, and will not treat HIV cases as that needs documentation and specialised training. The whole thing makes the blood boil, and helpless impotence is what most ordinary people face in crisis. At every level, it’s an enormous struggle.

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Endless Night

Some of you who are not familiar with life here, will have questions, advice and many things to say. I’m not writing this for that. I’m processing the reality of pain and brokenness; to live up to what I am convinced about, both as a person as well as a teacher, and in that, somehow, to continue to hold out hope to people entrusted by God to my care. I had written in my post Pain and Purpose about the presence of community during grief, and today in the funeral I experienced that. Grief is dealt with in a unique way in rural India, where all the women come together and wail in what may seem to be a ridiculous, almost artificial way to the West. We could hear the child’s mother up at the top of the building. The men lit a fire, and sat around it with the father, saying little. We all (only the men) walked a long way to the burial ground for children where the man had buried his daughter before this, and there had to face the snappish, insensitive caretaker of the land. I got back home after a long, long day feeling as though I had gone through a mangler. If it hadn’t been for the company of my friend and colleague Raj who lives in the same building, who was available through the night and who accompanied me to the hospital and back, and then to the funeral, it would have been much harder. In a week’s time, my family and I will leave for a week’s break to retreat, and rebirth, if you will, and there I hope to deal with all of this.

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Lamentation

I’m so grateful to the doctors at the little clinic who gave this precious family the first caring experience of hospital and treatment, and who cried with us. I haven’t seen a doctor in tears in as long as I can remember. And who are planning to help us carry this family forward into a future of hope. And where have I ever seen that?

Is this being trite? Talking of hope in the face of such great pain? There is no real hope unless there is terribly real loss, grief and pain. It’s the only place where the reality of Hope shows up with all the fragile and delicate, and yet enduring beauty of her face. In the story of Job, his children who died, did not come back to life, although new ones were added. Hope is always truly ‘seen’ while dealing with real despair.

In this Christmas time, my awareness of the pain it dealt God to redeem humankind, is my window to Hope for this family whose life has so intertwined now with mine.

The Cross and the Cradle

I got a message on Wednesday from a friend asking me whether my family would like to take a few minutes to tell the Christmas story in a creative way in church during our evening time together to fellowship and sing carols. It was quite odd, but I felt wild, and I put my better reasoning behind me, stuck my head in the ground so that I wouldn’t be able to see the practical problems of the lack of time, and said ‘Sure!’

6 hours later, I had just finished writing the story with parts for my wife Lydia and daughter Hannah as well. I had wanted to listen to a flute piece called Suspiro del Moro by Xavier Paxariño while thinking of a ‘creative way of telling the Christmas story’, as my friend put it. Suspiro del Moro is an extraordinary piece of music; very short, but it tears you apart. The first time I listened to it, I had no idea of its background, and I was in tears as vision upon vision of Gethsemane came into my mind. The thing is that every time I think of Christmas, I end up thinking of the cross, and I guess that’s why Xavier Paxariño’s piece came to mind. However, I couldn’t find it to listen to, so I chose one of my favourite Celtic instrumental pieces called He Was Pierced instead. There it was again. The Cross instead of the Cradle. How would I celebrate Christmas with its iconic atmosphere of joy, cheer and goodwill, if every time I end up thinking of a brutal execution stake?

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A beautiful photo by Tyler – a photographer with a gallery on DeviantArt

I think that’s the point. Of all cradles, Jesus’ hung intentionally under the shadow of the cross He was to die on years later. When the angels declared to the astounded shepherds ‘…and on Earth, peace among people of goodwill.’, Isaiah, had already written about the Messiah long before in these words, The disciplining that makes us whole fell on Him, and by His bruises we are healed. –  Isaiah 53:5. The peace we enjoy came sacrificially from God, with unbearable pain at its heart taken upon Himself. I find myself trying to balance the two, the joy of salvation’s gift, and the knowledge that the chastisement meant for me was put on His willing shoulders. I want to celebrate all the warmth, cheer and generous joy of Christmas without losing sight of how much it cost God. It’s terrible that what Christmas really means is so lost in the glitter and triteness that commercialization has made it.

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‘Foretold’ by Suzanne Burgos

I thought I’d share the story my family and I narrated in church yesterday. It might make this a longish post, but then if you’ve come this far reading it, I hope something creative might encourage you to read further. I’ve ended the story with something I’d written in a previous post. I had our names before each line so that we would know which one to read, but I’ve changed that here to who they’re meant to represent. I’m certainly not reinterpreting the Biblical narrative, and certainly not adding my own theology, but I do believe that creativity can help us delve deeper into Biblical truths and encounter them in fresh ways.

Father – It’s all ready now. Everything is in place, and waiting. Shall we start?

Son – Let’s look it over first. Is EVERYTHING planned for?

Spirit – Space and time will be woven and stretched; the patterns will be wonderful, and universes within universes will be born, and eternity will be ready to be placed within their hearts.

Son – Light and dark will be separated, laws and boundaries will have been declared and laid down.

Spirit – I will sit over all the chaos like a hen on her eggs, and I will birth order just like you wanted. But we’re wild and go where we will, and I will also put our wildness and life in everything.

Son – I will build matter and substance, and put our wonder in the smallest and the biggest. I will take the star seed and scatter it over the skyfields, and on all worlds I will sign our name and teach every atom to sing our song.

Father – That’s how I see it should be. I know it will be good because we will have taken the greatest care to make the best, and it’s just the way I think it must be. I want life and substance where there is none.

Son – And I will take the elements and form stories with life in them, that they will be living poems and letters of everything we will have done, on the land, in the sky and in the waters.

Spirit – And I will make them the living and the growing and the multiplying, of every shape and form and type, and fill all domains of the world with them. And they will be glad when I touch them and love them, and bind them into webs and embroideries of life.

Father – And when I bless them and declare my love over them.

Son – And when I walk in their midst after I make them.

Father – Yes, EVERYTHING is there and will be ready to receive them. What will they be like?

All three – Let’s make them in our image, like reflections of us, so that when they walk, our shadow may fall on everything. Let’s make them like us so that they may learn how to be one like we are one. And let them be our children who carry our plans, characteristics and nature, and multiply them forever in all worlds. And let them sit with us on our throne.

Father – Can you imagine what it will be like? We will walk with them and they will walk with us.

Spirit – But for them to be like us we will need to give them the power to make their own decisions. And there is already one that we’ve thrown out who will be waiting to twist that so that they no longer listen to us, or obey us.

Father – No, and they will not stop there. They will completely give themselves to the Lie, and their foolishness will increase in every generation until it becomes a burden too great for even the worlds to bear, and the embroidery that we have so carefully made, will tear, and decay.

Spirit – They will turn away even from our love and our life. And they will spit on us. And they will mock what we say. And they will dive willingly into the terrible punishment that we’ve kept for the Liar, because they will love him and themselves more than us.

Son – They will murder each other, and they will do things that we cannot even imagine or think of, things that do not even pass through our minds. They will cause us endless pain, and destroy everything we have made. They will make us familiar with suffering and with tears.

Father – They will reject and kill everyone we send, and who listens to us, and even when we allow them to destroy themselves again and again, until the pain has no words to express itself any longer, and their rot is open to be seen from all worlds, and the millions of their dead lie rotting in the open fields, they will still turn away from us.

All three – But they are ours. We have already put our love into them in our plans for them. They are not meant for anyone else. And what we make no one can undo unless we will it. The Liar has no power over us.

Father – How will we save them then? Is there any other way except one?

Son and Spirit – No. It’s all up to us. You know it’s the only way for everything to be bought back so that something new can be made.

Father – But it’s a terrible way, and it must be done now, before we begin.

Son – I’m ready, and more than willing.

Father – You know your cradle will swing over a dreadful grave.

Son – I know. And we are agreed.

Spirit – You know, you will be tempted to give up. You will be mocked, tortured, humiliated, lied to, taken advantage of, despised, pushed around, rejected and betrayed, and over all that, you will need to be silent and allow it.

Father – You will need to carry on yourself what you hate and cannot endure. The unbearable weight of all fallenness and unholiness from the beginning to the end will fall on your shoulders alone, and you will be crushed for them and because of them.

Son – Yes, and we know too that by the pain of those wounds they will be healed, and many will come back to us. I am ready, and more than willing. I know that you both love them so much that you will send me and you know that I love them as much as you, and I will go.

Father – We are agreed then. So be it. Let the Lamb be killed.

And He was declared killed. Before all things were made. It was then that He was ready to be sent, and at just the right time, a baby was born who carried the blood of great King David’s line. Her name was Mary. But years before her, baby boys were born in lands far off who would grow up interested in the stars. Another baby boy had been born closer to where Mary was born, who would later agree to marry her, even with knowing that his life was going to become unbearably complicated because of her. And another whole bunch of babies had been born into poverty and hardship, but who would love their livestock enough to bear the cold and take their sheep out to get the first grass springing out of the winter ground now made soft by melting snows. And they would see something extraordinary.

But you all know THAT story.

The story of a Gift, given before creation, of the price of all this pain, paid for and atoned for. A Love so big that It bleeds over everything that exists. It bleeds over us, over all that we do; It soaks us in forgiveness, redeems everything we do, blesses us with lavishness beyond description, and tells us we are the apple of our Father’s eye.

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Pain and Purpose

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Dad’s eye was a reminder of the very real presence of pain that we can’t run away from.

Dad has been doing quite well. However, about a week ago, he developed a lot of pain in the eye which had suffered a botched up cataract operation many years ago. The eye had always been problematic, but last week it was worse than usual, terribly red and very painful. I sent photos of the eye to Dr. Gopal of Neptune Hospital, who had successfully operated on Dad’s other eye, and who had so very graciously treated for free an auto driver-friend’s daughter whom we had taken to show him (he ended up saving the sight of the little girl who had lost 60% of sight in one eye), and then started the drops that he recommended. Into the third day now, there is some relief, but the pain keeps coming back, and the eye has only marginally reduced in redness. Perhaps, the wrongly placed lens has come loose, or the basal membrane has completely ruptured, I don’t know. I’ll consult with the doctor tomorrow, and as taking Dad anywhere is quite difficult now, I’m praying for God’s intervention and help as Dad’s 91 year old body struggles to handle the pain; help, both for Dad as well as for myself as I struggle to deal with the situation with its implications, see-sawing emotions and the return of that familiar, should I say, friend, pain.

Today was a rare day of having time for myself and I used it catching up on news and blog posts of people that I follow. One particular blog that has been a personal favourite and great blessing is Soul Surmise written by Steve Stockman, a poet I love whose album Grace Notes produced with singer Sam Hill, I had picked up years ago in a tiny book shop in the little mountain town of Kalimpong in North Bengal (what are the chances of that album reaching there, and my being the person to pick it up at that time?? I’ve never seen that album anywhere else subsequently, and no one I’ve talked to has heard of Steve Stockman or Sam Hill). I have a lot to say about Steve Stockman, but you can explore who he is on his blog link above.

Anyway, it was a shock to read today that his mother passed away suddenly last week. The post was raw, vulnerable, painfully honest and very, very poignant, and my heart went out to a man whom I’ve never met, who has no idea that I exist, but who feels very familiar to me; as though I’ve known him for years.

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Sunlight through the trees in Mussoorie in March.

As I prayed for him and his family, and wrote a message to him through, on looking back now, a rather presumptuous means of contacting him, I felt both the presence of Pain as well as the wonder of Presence…the Presence of the Spirit of God like a close hug, in which you can quietly come to pieces and it’s all right; the real presence of a man whom I’ve never met, but who is really my brother because of the same Spirit, and these overshadow the very real presence of the Pain of life and experience that unites people, breaking and shattering completely every wall that may presume to divide. It’s these presences that peek through the circumstances of life.

Reflecting on Steve’s post and my dad’s eye, I’m reminded of C.S.Lewis’ dark days following the death of his wife, where everything was stripped away, and loving friends came around. How much the loving face of God is encased in the warmth of friends who feel the pain and do what they can to wipe away tears, blood and sweat. I don’t know what I would have done without the few friends who walked with us through the dark months of my family’s pain, and I’m grateful for friends who are around me, who stand in the gap, who help and encourage.

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God’s Midas’ touch, but for what a different reason!

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, and how I will deal with further complications with my dad’s eye, but I know that it is so above my ability to handle it, that it is perfect ground for God to be Himself, and that His power will be made perfect in my weakness and limitations. The leaves are only themselves; it’s the sun that gives them a glory and beauty not their own, when its light is allowed to peek through. No pain is every wasted by God.

It’s held sacred in His loving hands and He will redeem its effects,
until something of worth and value is left…
…if we but let Him.

Salt and Light

The past week was very hard, for my class, for me, for the other teachers at school. The emotional and physical exhaustion of dealing with the discipline issues was fairly telling, and I was looking forward to the weekend to gather my thoughts, rest and reflect, and plan the week ahead for restoration and renewal with my students. It looks like the tough stands have borne some fruit, the class having flipped around since Monday this week, although I’m still processing whether I should have done some things differently.

However, I had no idea what was about to unfold even as I was counting the minutes to Saturday.

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No idea what was coming…just like the man in the famous German children’s story, ‘Max und Moritz – Der Funfter Streiche’ by Wilhelm Busch.

I was looking forward to some rest after lunch, and was just getting ready for a nap, when we heard a huge ruckus outside our flat, and going out brought my wife and me into the middle of what seemed to be a loud fight. There seemed to be an altercation going on between some of our building tenants and our watchman and his wife who was carrying her crying baby. To our disbelieving ears came the words,’They drove their car over my baby!’

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we had to quickly end the arguments, separate our watchman’s family and have them get ready to go to the hospital, and then organise and leave with the family for the hospital to get the child checked up for injuries. All that time, I remember thinking often that it was odd that there was no scratch on the child’s body, but the child clearly seemed to be in pain.

I don’t believe it was a coincidence that my friend Riyaz was just getting off duty at the hospital, and stayed and helped us through the whole check up process and paperwork. The child had a break in the right shin and one in the small bones of the left foot. No other injuries…and seeing again and again in my mind the vision of the car sweeping around the corner and running over the child’s legs, and no clue in the driver’s mind as to what had happened as no one was visible, the mother having left the baby for a few seconds to get some water, the miracle of the escape stuns me every time I think about it. Two days back, the orthopaedic surgeon set both legs in casts, and we will need to take the child back for a check up after 16 days. The child is looking better, laughing and pretty much the lively child he normally seems to be. What could have happened and what actually did is unbelievable.

For those of you who have been following this family’s story, will be familiar with their condition written in my post ‘The Day of Small Beginnings‘, with more details in subsequent posts, and how terrible this accident could be if the child doesn’t recover well.

However, that evening when I was reflecting over the day’s events while going through some old photos, my attention was caught by a photo of Hannah taken many years ago when we had visited a cottage industry fair which was conducting art and craft workshops, and I felt something important impress itself gently on my heart and mind.

Hannah is all concentration ‘making’ a clay pot along with the potter, sharing the same wheel and clay. However, in the second photo, it’s quite clear that it’s the potter who is in control, and the plan for the pot is his. I don’t believe she even noticed the potter getting more clay in the first photo. And It didn’t rob any magic for Hannah who was quite kicked to take the little pot home!

That’s so much like how God graciously works in, through, with and sometimes in spite of us! All it requires is our availability and willingness to engage with our situations, regardless of how powerless our actions may feel. God is certainly in control, and has been moving resources and events even without our noticing. He loves to work with weakness and failure, immaturity and lack of skill, as long as we have the humility to see our need for His presence, involvement, help and guidance; as long as we can see that we are really nothing without Him. He loves to teach us, empower us and see us fly. He is true to His word when He says, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ (1 Corinthians 12:9)

As I sat there in the dawning sky of this wondrous truth, letting its waves and billows of brightness wash over me, I saw with ever increasing clarity how this wonderful, deeply loving God had worked, and is continuing to work through the accident, bringing good after good out from it and lavishing everyone concerned with His grace. I saw how multiple tiny decisions made cumulated into life-saving acts.

A chain with an oustanding golden link - rendered in 3d

We could be that golden, vital link in a chain that would have otherwise broken.

If my wife had not gone out to see what was happening, I would, perhaps, not have gone out, and if we hadn’t broken up the argument, we would have missed Riyaz at the hospital and the process would have been much harder. If the young men in the car had not cooperated and listened to us so readily, everything would have been that much more difficult, as I didn’t have any money to pay for the treatment. If we hadn’t shifted house, we would never have met the watchman’s family, and if we had never got involved with them, the wife and child may have passed away beneath our very noses. If I hadn’t had empty classes, I would never have got involved with the Bridges’s Grade 8, and if I hadn’t watched ‘The Ron Clark Story’ (for the fifth time!) with other teachers some months ago, I would, perhaps, not have been ready to work through the discipline issues of the class. If my life had not been touched so profoundly by the great love of God in His Son Jesus, I would not have been alive today. Every day, I am convinced there are no coincidences.

Beyond the shadow of a doubt, both the occupants of the car and the watchman’s family have seen the grace of God at work. Whether they will follow through to the conclusion of such observation, is certainly another story, perhaps to be told at another time. Perhaps I will end up being the answer to my own prayers once again, or perhaps someone else will. It depends on who has made themselves available and who is willing to engage with what is presented before them, trusting that God is more than sufficient to do more than what we can imagine, through us.

links-in-a-chain-faces

Salt of the earth, light of the world; a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.

To me, in both the crazily euphoric and obtusely difficult involvement with the Grade 8s, and the demanding, emotionally see-sawing involvement with our watchman’s family, it looks like salt scattered in lives and situations to preserve them and give them flavour, hope shone into despair and desperation, and the creation of spaces where people feel safe and valued enough to start emerging for who they are, to explore a brand new vista opening up. It demands a change in the way I view myself, circumstances, people and situations.

And it takes a great burden off my shoulders knowing that God is at work, labouring with and alongside me; that the clay I’m trying clumsily to shape is safe in the gentle, guiding hands of the Great Potter of our lives.