I’m squeezing off this post while I still can.
Yes. I can’t think of a better word for the action. It’s been incredibly hectic with many things that I love to do or enjoy doing having to be put on the back-burner, often against my will. I’ve thought about things that I had written earlier about pulling back, listening, reflecting and feel strange about how, soon after that, an assault started of urgent needs taking over important things, unpredictable situations cropping up both at work as well as at home, small windows of breaks being lost to school programmes, training and medical needs. I’ve felt out of control, worn thin and stressed, and demotivated at work. The last is an incredible rarity. I thought I was over the hump as a teacher; I thought I knew how to handle loss of passion. I guess this season shows me how far I have yet to go.
Many of you have read about my dad; the incredible turn-around in his health last year and his recovery. Well, the summer is in, and those of you who know Delhi will know that this is the killer season. Literally. Every year people die all across India due to the heat. Delhi reaches an average of about 43 degrees Celsius (about 109 F) in the worst months of May and June, and can go up to a horrifying 47 degrees (116 F). AC bills are really high, and I can’t afford them, so we’re forced to limit our use of the AC. Well, both ACs conked out this season, and it’s already reaching 45 degrees (it was a short winter, and the heat has started early this year), and Dad has been wilting. It happens in a dreaded, familiar cycle every year. He slowly stops eating and deteriorates, and will not listen to anyone. This time, he hardly gets out of bed and is very, very feeble. There are many things I want to do for him, but as the familiar saying goes, if wishes were horses, well then, beggars would ride. The truth is that I can’t do the many things I want to do, and the few things I can, to me don’t seem enough.
Our watchman and his wife now have brought an unexpected twist to their story. You can read about their story in my previous posts, especially about the death of their baby in Red is the Colour of Pain and the last was that we had told them to hold off another child until we have medical advice to guide the pregnancy to maximise the chances of the baby being HIV negative. Well, as is with many people, they’ve had their own thoughts, and we recently found out that the wife is about 5 months pregnant. Some months ago, I had wondered, and had asked my wife to check with her, but she denied it then. We didn’t insist, but then suddenly some days ago they came to meet us asking for help with getting the baby checked. I honestly felt thrown in at the deep end, what with my worry about my dad and the difficult situations at work. There is no doubt that we will walk with them through this, but a sense of weariness has hit me that is hard to shake off, and this time I have many more limitations on my time, and I find myself struggling to know what to do and how to go about it.
One more week and then I start a 5 week professional development training which I’m personally dreading and have low interest in because I’ve seen how it took it out of my wife who did it two years ago. It means that for half my wife and daughter’s school vacation, I will be busy. This has been talked through with everyone concerned and everything has been worked out, but personally, I hate doing things I’m not interested in, and doing this to honour my management’s investment in me is the only incentive, besides the fact that the certification will come in use later. Three years doing what I love at work, and like a teenager I find myself struggling over a measly 5 weeks!
We’ve had a wave of sickness pass through both home and work, and both my wife and I have been substituting teachers and working extra. In Delhi, sicknesses don’t just come for a day or two. Even a flu feels terrible because the body is already fighting pollution, stress and heat. You can fall sick again and again…and again, and teachers seem really prone to it. Dengue is on the move and so is typhoid. We’re grateful we’ve been spared both so far, although colleagues have fallen to them.
In the midst of this chaos, I’ve been trying to find a reference point, something that will give perspective, direction and hope. Something in which I can find the shadow cast by the substance of hope. I came across some sights while travelling in the city which I photographed, and they came back to mind, as I tried to realign myself over the weekend.
Of all the graffiti I’ve seen, this is the most heart-breaking. I don’t know who wrote it, or what made him or her write it. But it made me realise that I don’t hate my life.
I used to…
But I love my life now because of the hope I have, the friends I have, the things I have the blessing to do and because of the family I have. I love the life God has graciously given me, and given back to me again and again, each time I’ve marred it. I love my life because of the many beautiful things I enjoy, and because each beautiful thing I see reflects the goodness of a Father who deeply loves me and cares for me. I’ve seen this so unmistakably that it’s impossible to escape for long.
Then there are the trees…
The two trees which only flower in summer throwing out a blaze of colour that you can only appreciate when it’s horribly hot – Gulmohurs and Laburnums.
It’s always a choice. Feel the heat, or see the colour.
One small difference in sound in the two words – pressure and precious. Crushed by one, and lifted up by the other.
God is in control of my dad’s life; has always been for 92 years. No one is going to live forever, and how long we live is in God’s hands. It’s in my hands to be faithful, and to take my worries to God and allow Him to lift both my dad and me up. God is more than capable of giving enough wisdom to handle my watchman’s new situation. Who knows what good is hidden in this, which is waiting to be released when I’m willing to be used by God? 5 weeks of training will fly by; it’s in my hands to be faithful, and in God’s to bless it and crown the course with His goodness. Who knows what experience of learning I may miss because of chafing at the bit? Sickness comes to everyone, but not everyone is sympathetic or caring towards sick people, especially if their comfort is touched. Who knows what grace is released by my wife’s and my faithfulness in going the second, third and fourth mile in covering someone’s weakness?
It pained me at church today to see my own pettiness, unfaithfulness and hypocrisy. I hope and pray for my own heart to change in the heat of this summer and the press of circumstances.
It’s the crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but for the human heart…?