Either You Run the Day…or the Day Runs You

2016 has turned into 2017. My 48 years are turning into 49. Numbers seem so important to us, but honestly, everything feels the same.

Change creeps up on us slowly, subtly, in little steps and shifts, and we’re often unaware of it until we seem to awake to things being different, and in retrospect we realise how much has changed. Good change seems to require just a simple, consistent, persistent Being. At. It.

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The old branch once was as small as the new shoot. Now it’s over three feet long, and still surprises me.

After a wonderful, restful break up in the mountains, coming back to the city was a little hard to handle, and it took a few days to deal with the feelings. However, we soon got back into routine, school started, our watchman’s wife came back from the village where she had gone to get her mind off the death of her baby, faculty meetings started, and life soon came back to what we had been used to.

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Delhi sky today – dull and dreary.

Dad has been doing well in his 91 year old health, and we’re grateful to God for so much grace in his life. From eating nothing about half a year ago, he now prowls around at midnight, rustling around the dining room and kitchen, looking for things to eat! And this after a full dinner! His eye seems to have settled and he’s pretty much back in his usual routine, dozing a lot, reading some (he can’t do much of it due to it straining his eye) and arguing with my mom! My mother in law is here with us for some weeks too, and it’s a great blessing having her as she’s good friends with my mom and the two give each other company a lot.

The new term in school has been very different. After the struggle to settle the constant disruption issues in my Grade 8 class, the new year and new term started on the interesting note of a much closer relationship with the students, better learning and more laughter in the class. Now just a few weeks remain till March 25, when I will have finished 6 months with the school, handed the class over, and moved back to my own institute to refocus on our language classes there.

And business continues to be worryingly low in our language school, now with a down-sized team, but little rise in the number of students.

Reflecting on how 2017 feels much like 2016 by virtue of Life just carrying on seamlessly, I’ve been endeavouring to keep my gaze on the vision I have for each of my situations and people I’m involved with, knowing that there is no real substitute to keeping at it. Being faithful. Plodding on with measured tread. Being constant. Consistent.

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Old Faithful!

Being reliable.

It strikes me that it’s not possible to be reliable without vision. That one needs to keep reflecting on one’s goals; on where one is heading. On embracing new situations as help-mates that will shape our growth to fit the ‘Us-Shaped’ futures that God has kept for us. Futures that are built on God’s vision for us becoming what we’re meant to be; really born to be, regardless of what we may appear now.

I often read articles by Sid Savara (a man who started intriguing me about a  year ago in the context of having vision and goals), and right now, having just received a mail in my inbox, I checked out the article, and I quote here from that with his permission –

So the context really matters. It’s very important to remember what it is that you’re trying to do, what matters – and stay focused on that.

It’s not that there is always a right thing to do – but there is very often a right thing that needs to be focused on for that specific task.

Take a step back, look at the bigger picture and ask yourself: what are my main goals for what I’m doing in this situation? Why am I taking these actions?

You know I absolutely don’t believe in coincidences. Sid’s lines paraphrase what I’m trying to say, but say it with a practicality that is simple and beautiful.

And often in God’s plans, the values and bottom-lines are very different from what the rest of the world thinks. Jesus tells people ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ Matthew 6:33. The context is the very necessary things that we do need in this life. However, the way we go about appropriating them and what forms the bottom-line in our life seems to be of more critical importance than those necessary things. I was reminded of this some weeks ago on reading a post called Deep Water by a blogger whom I respect very much on a blog called Beauty Beyond BonesThe incident she mentions in her post, of Jesus’ disciples fishing all night and catching nothing, was the subject of my reflections in connection to the down-season we’re facing financially in our language school, and I was impressed by the fact that the disciples, although they were tired and dis-spirited, made the critical decision to regather their strength, and go back and do the same thing all over again, with one vital difference – follow the instructions given to them by Jesus. The instructions baffled good fishing strategy, and seemed almost facetious, but the astounding catch that followed brought such an extraordinary awe upon them, that it resulted in them making the life-changing, and ultimately history-changing, decision to follow Jesus, and in a similar incident later, in reinstatement and encouragement when they had fallen away after the crucifixion. It caused them to rule and overcome their circumstances, rather than be at their mercy.

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Right in front where I can’t miss it!

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This picture and quote by Jim Rohn has kept me on track many times in 2016.

The January page of my 2016 calendar was an important one; one that I’m trying to practice with God’s help. Although the calendar is useless, the picture now hangs up on the wall in front of my desk reminding me every time I look at it of having vision and following God’s instructions. It helps me realign myself to what God is saying every time I drift off. It helps me to seek that place where vision, God’s nudging and instruction and consistent, persistent faithfulness all mesh. It keeps me from being at the mercy of my circumstances and running the treadmill of today’s rat-race.

It helps me to move from 2016 to 2017, from being 48 to being 49, without unrealistic expectations, but with plenty of hope; without regret, but with valuable lessons; without the condemnation of failed opportunities, but with eagerness for more opportunities that a loving God will send me, as He teaches me to live.

More Reflections on Light

When I made the post Limned in Light before this, I remembered one of my favourite songs ‘Look How Far’ by a singer/songwriter that I love – Bruce Cockburn. I had wanted to embed the song to listen to while looking at the photos in the post, but I forgot! So I decided to include it in this one, while the theme was still on light, continuing on from the last post.

The reason I love this song so much is because I discovered it at a time of great personal pain, and the lyrics both encouraged and comforted me, especially the line ‘Look how far the light came to paint you this way’, which was, at that time, exactly what God was doing – reaching way, way down into depths of despair and darkness, crossing light years of history, lies, opinions and trauma to save, restore and rebuild my family and our lives. I have never seen such a love as this that takes what is rejected and treats it with honour; when God chooses the weak and foolish things of this world to shame what is strong and wise.

So, here it is ‘Look How Far’ by Bruce Cockburn. Enjoy the photos below the song – they’re a mixture of scenes and portraits of tree, leaf, flower, rock, forest and sky, taken from our recent retreat and some from about three years ago.

On this rooftop where we’re sitting
In the rays of the setting sun
Glasses of wine on a crate between us
Catch the light — seem to glow from within

And there’s a laugh
Hanging in the air
And there’s no
Desperation anywhere

So many miles, so many doors
Some need patience, some need force
All fall open in their own due course
To allow us this time

And you’re limned
In light, golden and thin
Looks to me
Like you’re lit up from within

And look how far the light came
Look how far the light came
Look how far the light came
To paint you
This way

And I picture us in this light
Friendship a fine silver web
Stretched across golden smoky haze
And this is simple
And this is grace

And this light
Is a guest from far away
Passing through
The last whisper of day

And look how far the light came
Look how far the light came
Look how far the light came
To paint you
This way

My little family – Lydia on my right and Hannah on my left. They limn my life and are the spangles in our home.

The sky was royal! A blue we hadn’t seen in ages that made us feel what we were missing in the city.

Dad and Daughter

Hannah wanted to take photos so here is a collage of pictures she took on our walk in the forest.

I love the dappling of sun and shade in the forest!

Shadowy, rolling hills just before sunrise.

In the lap of the hills.

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Fire-shot.

Pattern of lichen, ancient lava flow, gas vesicles and fossil tree. The lava flow is down in Bangalore in South India, and was, unfortunately, impossible to get a photo of without some garbage.

Blaze of colour – Bougainvillea feast down south in Bangalore.

The bougainvillea above and flower beds below were to be seen to be believed. No colour enhancement has been used in these photos. Add to this a mostly cloudy day… 

The play of light on indoor plants are among my favourite sights.

What a blessing light is, and how blessed it is to have sight. And what a gift it is to have people in our lives who see and bring out beauty in us that perhaps no one else sees.