What I Have Learned (sometimes the hard way)

seldomblogger:

Some wonderful thoughts blogged by my fellow blogger: tvaraj….worth the read!

Originally posted on Impressions:

.Love
I’ve learned- that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.

I’ve learned- that no matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back.

I’ve learned- that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.

I’ve learned- that it’s not what you have in your life but who you have in your life that counts.

I’ve learned- that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you’d better know something.

I’ve learned- that you shouldn’t compare yourself to the best others can do.

I’ve learned- that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

I’ve learned- that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I’ve learned- that you should always…

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Eyes of Magdalene

Some centuries ago…

She was running away, exhausted, short of breath, and bruised in several places. The shouts of men and women echoed through the streets. She felt the taste of blood and dirt in her mouth. She felt the last moments of her life, and wished it didn’t have to end so unpleasantly. The evangelists mention her as Mary Magdalene, and on the day she almost got killed for being an adulteress, something changed.

Jewish law was very firm about adultery – a woman was meant to reflect an ardour of piety and virtuosity, the psalms clearly define her as the pride of her father and the faith of her husband. Her chastity went before her. If she were seen with another man who wasn’t her brother, father or husband she was to be condemned. The texts don’t mention the act of sin for which she was caught – so perhaps she was a bad example to other young pious girls, perhaps she wrecked a woman’s marriage, or several of them..perhaps she ran off with a man, spoiling her father’s integrity. Whatever the reason, she was condemned to die.

Some years ago…

I was running away, exhausted, short of breath, and bearing a few bruise marks on my hands. The corner of my mouth was bitten and bleeding. The emotions that I felt were close to suicidal.

It was a normal day at work. I was particularly known for being an accounting geek and still very fresh and naive into the career world. It was the mid day lunch break, and I was looking to grab my favorite sandwich from the nearby cafeteria. While walking towards it, a big elderly man came out from a car and asked me to stop. He told me in plain words, not to ‘take him wrongly’, but he was noticing me for a while, and being a skin specialist he wanted to help me with my apparently severe acne problem. Yes I admit, it was severe, my face was covered with it, and this man seemed to be kind enough to come up with a solution. It was like a miracle. He pointed out to the clinic where he practised, and he asked me to accompany him if I don’t mind spending a few minutes, while he examine my face thoroughly. Being an elderly man with complete white hair rendered to me as harmless, and like an innocent fool, I followed. Besides, it was a public place. We entered the public lift into the clinic dispensary, where he spoke to the receptionist in a language that I couldn’t understand. After the receptionist showed no signs of complying, he explained that since his shift was just over,  his room was now being used by another colleague and hence not vacant. I told him politely that I would take an appointment and surely visit him soon, as I was getting late for my lunch. He seemed insistent on helping me. My face questioned his stubbornness, which he assured me that he felt a deep sense of fatherly protectiveness towards me and wanted to help. I waited a bit more.

It was 30 minutes, and the man was getting impatient. Finally I said that I need to report to work, and yet again he insisted he drop me to the door. I couldn’t refuse. He took a private staff elevator, which was apparently unoccupied at the time we entered. He slammed the ‘Ground’ button and after a few seconds, he made a violent grab at me. He knew he had just a few seconds to do what he had planned before the doors opened at the ground level, and also knew that I was too confused to protest any of his advances. His movements were swift, hard and desperate. The few seconds were enough to put up bruises on my arm where he was restraining me, and along the sides of my lip where he tried to bite. The elevator doors opened and he fled off. I was too shocked to move, too sick to report back to work, too frightened to tell anyone or even get into a cab home. I went back to the clinic reception, and asked for the name of that specialist. The receptionist replied, “Oh he’s no doctor – he was just a visitor claiming to be a VIP friend of a doctor who is yet to come for his shift. He was also requesting if he could wait for the doctor in his room, which I told him was not allowed and he would have to wait in the lobby like everyone else.” I realised to my misery, that this molester was obviously a con man. Yes, if this man was to be found, he was really meant to die.

Back to centuries ago…

Just as she was profusely bleeding, a man appears and looks into Mary Magdalene’s eyes. He lifts her up along with her bleeding spirit. His attention was commanding like that of a holy person or a rabbi. The crowd stopped stoning, but continued to echo the judgement. “The law says she ought to die by stoning. A woman of her character is deemed punishment.” The rabbi who stood between the condemning and the condemned was Jesus, and after much thought He looked at them, and challenged them, “Let the one who has committed no sin, throw the first stone”. And they all went away, starting from the youngest to the eldest.

A passerby couldn’t believe that this Jew, who was considered a rabbi by many just broke a Jewish law. He couldn’t accept that it was the same person who just taught the crowds that if your hand or eye or any body part causes you to sin, you must cut it off. It was difficult to digest that this very same man condemned that those who even looked at women lustfully, committed adultery. Then why did He have to show leniency to the one who was just caught in the very act of such a grave sin? It surely left the passerby confused.

Few days ago…

Its been three years since my physical attack, and that experience surely carved me into the person I am today. Like the classic saying, “All things happen for the best”; “Look for the silver lining”, etc, I had made peace with that event and took it as a lesson to make myself more smarter in trusting strangers, took street combat lessons, and shared my experience to lighten up similar attack victims. I had even forgotten how my assailant looked liked, or perhaps I had simply repressed that memory.

The other day, a colleague was having trouble with a client who refused to abide by the payment rules and began to demand for the manager in a very high tone. She asked me to assist her in negotiating with him as our manager was not available. As I walked towards the office, I met the client’s family members – his wife and young daughter who were nervously seated in the lobby area. His voice echoed loudly in the corridor. As I entered the office, my face turned white and cold.

The man I thought I’d forgotten, and prayed never to see again was suddenly in front of me. My assailant was the same, old big man with white hair and the same insistent voice. I knew he recognised me because 0f his sudden nervous silence. He watched me closely and studied my face for any signs of recollection. I asked him what was the problem, politely. He explained that he was conned by a hotel reservation website and upon arrival from his home country, found that the hotel and its location was all bogus. He was requesting for accommodation within our residential premises for a week, but could not pay the mandatory advance as was required, since all his funds were blocked in his international credit card and wouldn’t be accessible until the next day. He went on to say that he and his family had no place to go for now, and my colleagues just refused to understand his situation. His voice was low and didn’t display any anger. My eyes were fixed on him, and a thousand ideas ran into my head. ” I should call the police? I should remind him of his attack? I should call his wife and kids and tell them what a monster they have with them?” The hate I carried for so many years was about to burst in my head. After a long two minutes of silence, I picked up the phone and dialled my manager. I went out of my way to convince my boss that the man was reliable and his payment would be available next day, and to allow him accommodation as his wife and daughter were stranded too. I even took the risk of non-payment upon me. This man watched my every action like a chicken who was awaiting its butcher. Finally with permission granted, I asked my colleagues to show him his new residence. He appreciated me profusely, still sweating, and kept re-assuring that the payment would indeed be made the next day. I simply said, “Sure, I trust you”.

I couldn’t understand what made me carry out my actions that day. I wasn’t scared, hell no! I could’ve reported him, humiliated him, reminded him, but did none of it. Even if he had made a counter attack, I was ready for him, but all I did was simply understand him as another victim of fraud, and he was helpless. I was in a hopeless irony of events that were beyond my control, and I’m sure many of you have found your selves forgiving the most darkest of people despite the numerous plans of revenge you planned for them. Understanding this as a miracle, perhaps would help you understand the fathomless mercy God has for us and for others – super, unexplainable depths of understanding. He may have His commandments, but He will still understand us, our regrets like He did through the eyes of Magdalene.


The Macro Trip

Year 2008

I had just landed on the job of my career and was thoroughly enjoying it. That year I could not vacation with my family, and it would be the first time I would be left behind. I wasn’t entirely disappointed, as I had looked forward to the liberty. I massively enjoyed playing ‘chef of the house’, pyjama parties on weekends with the girlfriends and non-stop loud music. I spoke to my dad every other night; he in particular never pictured a vacation without me. One of the nights he sounded rather low, and he told me the Family was having a re-union at the ancentral home at Goa, and he regretted I wasn’t goint to be there for the Family photo.

Frankly, (I know this may sound nasty) but I felt lucky. I’ve never had good experiences out of a family re-union as we all have different personas, the coming together of which always resulted in a cocktail of funny to tragic consequences. The Family, essentially included my maternal grandparents “the Grans”, a string of aunties who always fussed around with what we wore, spoke or did. The uncles were a competitive bunch, each bragging on their own progress with their life (or wife) and hanging out at nights pretending to be in their hey days. They had a comment for everything – from politics to fashion and non of them were diplomatic enough to conceal it. The cousins were definitely a bratty bunch and we were of a wide age range – from the whining toddler, the over-conscious teenager to the early-twenty-something-with-a-secret.  Arguments were definitely an integral part of such get-togethers, nevertheless the Family never missed an opportunity to show up. Yup, I was glad I wasn’t there.

The following day at work, I was distracted. Even though I wasn’t missing the Family, I missed the monsoons, the smell of freshly wet leaves, damp soil, chilled breeze through the windows, and sunsets on the beach. At the coffee machine, I asked my senior an unexpected question: “What would happen if I went to India over the 2 day weekend?”. He didn’t see it coming as much as I didn’t and just stared in amazement. “You just go and come in 2 days?”, he asked. “Yeaaa”…I replied. “I think Boss needs to know” and he cooly left the responsibility on my Boss to decide.

I thought it wasn’t a big deal. Technically I wasn’t missing work or being absent in any way, so I was wondering why her consultation was even important. She had many ‘good-intention-questions’: Is it important? Is it worth it? What if something “happens to you” during the journey? Have you travelled alone before? Do your folks know you’re travelling? She definitely wasn’t happy that it was a surprise trip. She bluntly said NO.

The following day I tried another strategy – I lied that my dad knew and was looking forward to seeing me. She still wasn’t convinced, but she didn’t say much this time and I was ready to go. I managed to get the late night flight that Thursday, and the only one who knew about my flight (apart from my colleagues) was my immediate neighbor. I gave her my parents cell numbers,  since my mind was ringing with “what if something happens”.

That day as I remember, everything did go wrong: My seat wasn’t confirmed as it was a crowded flight, my travelling bag developed a broken zip, I found a huge lizard in the bathroom and I couldn’t get a saloon appointment to fix my hair. I was still determined, I simply shut the bathroom, bunned my hair, fixed my bag with tape and rushed to the airport. At the check-in, the officers identified my passport number nearly similar to a most-wanted fugitive. Two minutes later they cross-checked and laughed off. Such hiccups were building my anxiety though. The weather reports  stated heavy rains on my air route – which meant turbulence and a possible delay. This could mean I may miss my connecting flight which was timed just an hour after the first landing. My idea was to surprise my folks as early as breakfast on Friday morning.

As fate had it, my flight was delayed but thankfully for not more than 30 minutes. I had no heavy luggage, so I could skip the baggage queue and dart for the next flight. After going through all the gates, to my shock the counter was closed. I had just missed the connecting domestic flight! Thoughts raced through me: I didn’t know whether I could still manage another flight or it was all useless and I should take a U-turn back. I remember making frantic calls to the airlines, and then ran out of cell battery. All other flights were full, and again I found myself with unconfirmed seats for the late afternoon flight which would be after a whole 8 hours.

This was the first time in a long while that I managed to silence my mind and reflect – was this trip really worth it? Could I expect more hiccups further on? Should I have taken all those bad omens seriously? My thoughts were on that huge lizard shut in an over-heated bathroom with no ventilation. All the same, the thoughts of the final destination kept  me from turning back. I explored the little airport many times, I even napped on the floor, I studied the travel magazines from cover to cover, I visited the restrooms atleast 12 times and finally the counter for the last flight to Goa was opened, and I made sure I was the first in line – 2 hours ahead!

My seat was confirmed, I don’t remember how I spent those next two hours so I’ll fast forward to landing on the rather small airport at Goa and catching a bus towards my ancentral village. I never learnt the local language all my life, so I had a bit of trouble trying to get there. Fortunately, its such a small state, and everybody seems to know well, almost everybody. I prayed that I would make it before sunset.

Finally the bus came to a halt after almost an hour’s journey. And unbelievably, at the bus station was my eager Gran Ma. I embraced her with a perplexed smile and looked for the others. She explained that my neighbor grew worried when I didnt call her in the morning and so she alerted my grandmother. And the poor lady was anxiously waiting since morning, till she finally decided to sit at the station, confident that the last bus would have me in it. She said she kept the secret though, so now I was ready to execute the full surprise!

The first person to see us was Mom, and she had come looking for Gran. On finding her, she continued to converse to Gran, completely ignorant of who stood beside her. It was only moments later did her mind register my presence. She exclaimed in surprise “My goodness, how could you possibly come to this part of the world alone? Is that all the baggage you brought?!!” My uncles were in the verandah enjoying the beach sunset with their beers. They all raised their glasses on seeing me with a big loud “Hey look who’s here!” all in chorus. The excitement and commotion had started. The brats abandoned their cell phones for that moment and all darted towards me for a group hug. My Gran Pa awoke from his nap and stuck his head out of his room to check what was all the noise about. Seeing the crowd at the entrance, he went back to his bed: the matter will either be handled by others or the matter will come to him eventually if it has to, he thought and dosed off again. My sister passed me by without saying a word and went into the kitchen. Two minutes later, she rushed out to me saying: “Hey, you weren’t with us right?” And then it dawned upon her. My dad was nowhere in sight. I searched through the house till I found him in the library on the phone. I’ll never forget his expression when he saw me in the room that day. He promptly ended the call, we embraced and he had one of those widest smiles that he gave very rarely. And that smile stayed with him for the rest of that day. It was the last day of the Family stay in this home and they were all supposed to leave the following afternoon, but now with my arrival everyone thought of postponing their departure for 2 days later. The energy in that house was remarkable. We could beat the cast of My Big Fat Greek Wedding anytime! Everyone seemed to forget their squabbles, their cell phones, and all wanted to keenly be a part of the great hilarious journey story that I was narrating. My uncles threw their heads back and laughed at how I tried to communicate to the bus driver in local language. My mother was concerned about my safety and kept asking me why I didnt get more clothes, my aunties chided my Gran Ma for not trusting them with her secret, and the brats kept repeating how stunned they were to see me at the entrance.

Even though I had less than 24 hours with the Family, I made the most of it. I played chess with Gran Pa – oh yes he woke up by evening, but didn’t understand why everybody said I surprised them. The Aunties were in a competition to cook the best dinner, my Gran Ma showed me the great ancestral home and the room where she was born. Even though she did this every year, this time I felt special, like I was listening to the story for the first time. I stayed up till late with the brats on the beach and slept below the sky on the home terrace (under rain sheets ofcourse), where I could look up and say “Thank You”.

A week later, I spent sometime to reflect on that weekend. On the micro level, I just made another trip, passed through several hindrances and never gave up because I was fixed on my destination. On the macro level, I knew God was showing me something else. Apparently we may all doubt, we may all face bad omens that shout in our faces to give up, we may be tempted to stop listening what God wants for us and listen rather to what others have to say, we may become fearful of life’s changing weather and turbulences, we frustrate at delays, we miss schedules, and think it was our fault. The real truth is, if we all believed that God willed each of these hiccups for us, that if we simply followed our hearts rather than get bogged down with rules and the descipline of life and religion, we might just catch a glimpse of Him. In reality I took a trip that I thought would never happen; I took a trip I kept avoiding, I took a trip breaking most of the conventional rules; I took a trip to Heaven and back, and it surely did feel awesome!


What’s wrong with the pious?

“Too much of a good thing is bad for you”

Maria was a typical health freak. True to her profession as a health consultant, her life was desciplined with schedules and diets which she faithfully kept. Starting from her morning yoga to her early bed times, she never faltered even once. All foods were scrutinised according to calories, fibre content, sugars, etc. She hardly attended parties unless they were at the office or for lunch, and if she did come, she would simply settle for the salad. Maria took pride in her looks, and advocated her healthy lifestyle with whoever she met. She was also a cover model for a local health mag. However, her life was not short of compromises. Behind the great looks and the fab body, Maria never socialised and had few friends. She avoided ‘pizza days’ at the office. Even under extreme conditions of fatigue and sickness, she continued with her exercise regimes, which if skipped would make her feel uneasy and guilty.

One day she received a call from the health mag saying she was to be replaced by a new model. The news didn’t cause much shock, but she was curious to know about her ‘match’. A chance introduction gave Maria this opportunity for a little ‘tell the secret behind your health’ chat. The conversation proved shocking! There were no health secrets. This newbie was completely slim, yet she thrived on food, sodas and buffets. She had no fixed exercises, but she admitted she was very active at work & home and used stairs or walked the mile to several places. She overslept on weekends and never heard of yoga. Counting calories was definitely not her favourite math. Maria found this unbearable. Her years of toil, sacrifices and health formulas were reduced to nothing. She was so disgusted with this newcomer, that for the rest of her life she kept a close watch on her counterpart, looking for opportunities to blame some kind of ailment or disease upon her.

Obviously we all know the moral: pride got her down! But this is just one aspect of life, let’s examine our spiritual side. Question time!:

  • Do we focus more on our daily rituals and carry them out without fail, even whether sick or unable?
  • Are these rituals looked upon as a target obligation for the day / week?
  • Does adhering to these rituals faithfully make us so puffed up so as to look down upon others who don’t do them?
  • Have you judged yourself as pious, and therefore all the rest who dont do the same things as you, as non-pious?
  • Do you estrange yourself from these so-called ‘non-pious’, so as not to get their bad influence? (this may seem silly, but believe me, many people do)
  • When you see a ‘non-pious’ person blessed and happy, do you search  / wait for problems to befall them, so you could proudly say “I knew this would happen eventually”
  • Do you see the problems that beset a non-pious person as ‘deserving’ and your own problems as ‘Divine trials and tests’?

Descipline is good, just as exercise is good for health, a good study timetable is good for a student, therefore rituals are good for the God-fearing, but we need to see the focus of the same. A Jesuit priest once advised me “too much of a good thing is bad for you”, and though at that time I laughed, I now understand how wrong focuses can get us away from God instead of closer. If our devotions have helped us achieve that oneness with the Divine, then we are on the right track, but if it has lead us to spiritual pride then perhaps we are like a clean shroud that covers a dead corpse. There is no positivity from such people, they have already judged themselves apart from ‘the others’, and have a clear pre-conceived portrait of God. They are too rigid to change or accept that God can be and do more than the Scriptures have recorded. They pull verses from the Bible to suit their needs and amazingly challenge only those who are not as much well-versed.

Something struck me as I was in a Christian meeting once, that Jesus chose 12 unlearned and definitely not-pious men to start His church. They were fishermen, tax men, etc, not scribes and priests. Simple reason: These were unlike those who by-hearted the Scriptures and said ‘God can’t possibly…’, but rather open to “Yes, God can”


Part two: Examining your baggage

After completing the exercise of finding the ‘connection’ with God, I was over-excited and religiously followed the routine of meeting God in this ‘secret’ place, sometimes even twice a day. It’s not easy to find enough privacy on a busy day, so sometimes I had to resort to even using the washroom as my ultimate meditation area, where I could achieve golden moments of unperturbed silence. The routine turned addictive at first, as I would get transported to another world with every rendezvous, but I happened to notice there wasn’t anything new to it. I was scared the routine would turn out to be just another fragment of my imagination. On a personal level too, I had not changed – I had the same temper tantrums at home, the same anxiety feelings if things went wrong at work, and a whole lot of spiritual dryness each time I prayed which reflected in my distractions.

Coming across my mom’s bible notes one day, I read an excerpt from her texts which said, “God is never looking for your attention, He is looking for lifelong companionship; He is not seeking a date, but a committed bride.” For all those in love, engaged or married, its easy to relate to this statement and reflect on the time when you first met your partner. I’m sure all of you at some point, after gaining the trust and confidence of your loved one, sat down to confide your secrets – could be about something in the past, a fact about the present, or your fears of the future, or simply something that you earnestly felt your partner should know in order to proceed with the relationship. I realised that the same applied to my own Divine rendezvous. In order to proceed, I needed to examine my innermost, perhaps even darkest facts, facts that not even myself, but only my sub-conscious mind was aware of.

Many of you would disagree with the above, simply because unlike your human partner who is in the process of knowing you for the first time, God has known you from the very moment of your conception. Many of you would even agree, that most of these ‘dark innermost facts’ are already the result of God’s own will for you. But here’s the real catch – unless you spell these out, (however small or gross, or silly or ugly these facts may be) you will never be able to frankly tell God that these are the areas where you need help. We find great solace in reading self-help books and spending hours seeking solutions from shrinks, who eventually come down to the same exercise that we need to do at this point – examining and coming to terms with our past. My Jesuit mentor told me once, ‘God is never interested in the number of times we have sinned, but why we sinned’.

My own history is full of hurts, misconceptions of certain events, and bad habits which I have conveniently chosen not to remember rather than sort it out. Some of my own closet skeletons are shared below:

  • I love my mom a lot, but I still have ego issues, temper tantrums, and simply refuse to get corrected by her.
  • I gossip instead of defending the victim of slander.
  • I have difficulty interacting with certain people who have affected my past, which includes my childhood best friend.
  • I am easily envious of certain people.
  • At every confession I tend to resolve never to repeat any of the above, only to find myself back with the same  list, just an altered vocabulary.

Getting myself to list these facts and many more was not a task I could achieve overnight. I was required to examine every year of my life since childhood in order to arrive at the root reason for such repetitive gestures. Its only when God sees that you are making conscious efforts to eradicate these ‘bad roots’, will He provide you further insight into your history. Is your irritability due to something that you are not happy about? or haven’t achieved? Do you gossip out of fear of rejection or insecurity? Are you withholding an event in your childhood, which according to you should not have happened? or where you felt you were unjustly corrected or treated? Are you envious because you fail to accept how some people are so blessed even though you seemed to have made more sacrifices and honest dealings than them? or have you repeatedly reminded yourself that you have forgiven a person’s wrong deed but the event still seems to disturb you? Have you been part of a crime due to total helplessness or just to imitate someone else?

I noticed that each time I was unravelling a secret or bad habit I thought I had forgotten about, I felt God reminded me more of the event in detail. The exercise was indeed very therapeutic, and at the end I felt so light – like a great deal of excess baggage suddenly been lifted off! Some of my bad habits could not be shaken off at once simply because it had become a part of my being; that’s when God loves it when you acknowledge it to Him, and that without His help, He cannot work through you. I now understood what He meant when He promised “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).

After this exercise I assure you, you will find your perceptions more clearer, your bad habits eradicated (you eradicated the root causes after all), your temper controlled and the upcoming Divine journey more exciting to look forward to!


Part One: The Search

Are you someone who has everything perfect around you..a perfect home, a sustainable career, a family, but yet you seem to feel incomplete? Do you seem to be one of those organised persons who plans the entire day, week, year and seem to have achieved all tasks from time to time, but you still feel restless during leisure? If you fall under any of the above, then like myself, your mind and heart is searching….

A famous saint once said, “The heart cannot rest until it finds its rest in God”:

I often thought it silly when Jesus’ desciples ask Him how to pray..something they have been doing for years to the same God. So why should it be any different? But now I understood. One of my favorite Jesuit priests once asked me “What is (and not who is) God to you?”

  • If God is someone you pray to in times of a financial or employment crisis – its not God, its a magic bank / recruitment agent..
  • If God is someone you remember when you are depressed – its not God, its a magic shrink..
  • If God is someone you run to because someone misbehaved with you and you need to teach that person a lesson – its not God, its a magic super judge
  • If God is someone you intercede to heal you when you are struck with an ailment – that’s a magic doctor

If you look closely at all of the above cases, we tend to see God as our ultimate miracle worker. Ofcourse, He’s the Father of all miracles, but that’s a one sided view. There’s something more to this than God just being a wonder-maker. This was one of the major doctrines that Jesus came to correct.

I’ll ask a few more questions:

  • If you were told after many years by the parents who raised you that you were adopted, and that your birth mother was still alive, what would you do? Most of us, even if we wouldnt want the real parent back in our life would definitely go out to find who they were..
  • Why do you fall in love with a person?
  • Why are you close to one particular friend, from the rest of your buddies?

In all of the above, there is one common answer. We seek - the connection. It was this connection that Jesus restored in the prayer when He said to address God as “Our Father”. It is the same connection with which God spent beautiful moments with Adam and Eve – His creations in Eden. When we realise this, God will no longer be an ATM machine to us, but Someone whom we have a real bond.

Do you want to know how to experience this connection today? You will need a quite private place. Private because you need to be comfortable in the position you are in, without feeling awkward or self conscious if someone else sees you, similarly to avoid all distractions and disturbances…Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Let your imaginations take you to a mystical and beautiful place in nature where God is waiting. Let your heart remind you that God is happy to see you, irrespective what you did or didn’t do today. Hear God tell you “I am connected to you, the breath you breathe is My very own”


Family feuds

Today I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. The memories of last night’s conversation with my Mother lingered and I was irritated. The reason? More family drama. It is the extended family this time, with the dramatic incidents within my own family quite still for the moment. In this series of melodrama de la familia, it is time for a new episode.

It turns out that an ongoing family feud with my relatives erupted again yesterday, with my folks meeting up with my Uncle’s family to invite them for my brother’s wedding. To cut the long story short, my cousin has fed his parents with an elaborate image of me being an arrogant, rude and flirtatious character who used to talk to men all night long and wore short skirts to work (stories from about 3 years ago, the can of worms which were opened yesterday). This is pretty scandalous in the small and conservative village from where I come. The stories are imaginative and show his true character of being a sexist, suspicious alpha male and depict me as having crossed the line of protocol of all ‘respectable’ women in the family. If the stories were true I would have ignored them but it hurt me that he could cook up stories about my character just to put himself in the good light. Yesterday’s family meeting episode turned out quite theatrical with incidents of  anger eruptions, chest-beating and insults. Yes, the works.

Having vented out all my anger on my husband yesterday and today morning, he advised me to let it go.  At work,  I was amused when I got two beautiful messages by the Lord which which were apt for my current situation. Like I said He’s got my back covered. One was a beautiful Buddhist message (I respect this religion a lot) on my Facebook page which reminded me not to look for the fault in others but to look at my own mistakes which in turn will improve my  patience, tolerance, kindness etc.  In retrospect, I realsied that I did have a part in the problem and however small my role was, I needed to accept it and take responsibility for my part. The second message was from a blog by a Jesuit priest that I love, which coincidentally talks today about forgiveness and how I would feel if God kept a grudge on all my sins. It was as if the veil over my eyes had been lifted and things soon fell into place.

Besides the message of forgiveness I learnt some important lessons from this incident. One being that if you are willing to look beyond the boundaries in your own religion, we can get meaningful messages from the Divine from unexpected places. Even from religions different from one’s own. Like  I did from a buddhist perspective which also spoke on the same message as Christ. The next lesson is that it is necessary to listen to the outlook of the other person before making a judgement. Whether it is your own parents, spouse, friends or children; people often feed you perspectives influenced by their own personal opinions and biases. Our loved ones could be in error and hence we should not be quick to condemn the accused in spite of a possible backlash at our loyalty. Lastly,  we all know this but often fail to implement it- asking God for advice. After all He’s the best there is for one.


Pollock of Light

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