Destiny or Choice - Judas a tragedy

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Gratitude through Generations : Thoughts on Psalm105


One morning, as part of my own meditation, I read all of Psalm105. I didn’t plan to read it; I just happened to read it. This Psalm essentially asks people to worship and trust in the Lord, because of what He has done for us.

This Psalm has 45 verses, wherein almost about 600 years of history is captured, from Abraham to Joshua. Isn’t it amazing?

Let’s think a little bit about King David, who writes this Psalm. Can you imagine almost a thousand years separate him from when Abraham lived.  It is also almost  350 years after the Israelites went into Canaan. Now consider this, At the time when  King David  was writing this Psalm, he did not have access to the internet, nor to libraries in the same way that we do today.

There are a couple of things we can conclude about King David and his context. The first and the most obvious one is this: King David was a well-read man who had access to all the literature of that time. Second, there was some sort of thorough way in which history was recorded. Either it was meticulously passed on through oral tradition or it was carefully recorded in writing. Third, King David was a poet. His poetry was deeply reflective. He was able to connect the history of that time to his context and relate it to God’s faithfulness to His People.

Isn’t it amazing? Despite a 1000 years separating Abraham and King David, the king was able to connect various elements of Israel’s history right from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and then the travails of Joseph. Here, he speaks of Joseph’s role in prison and then as a helper to Pharaoh and it goes on. We then come to the birth of Moses, the captivity of Israelites in Egypt and how they lived for several years. Then arrive the plagues, miraculous signs in the plagues and then the journey of the Israelites across the Red Sea and giving them food through manna. He also opened the water from the rock,  All these aspects are captured by David in one single Psalm!

What struck me through all of this is the fact that we have a living word. At different levels and at different times, you will see that the mercies of the past and the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all fulfilled. Thus, when we look at our current context, the Psalm 105  can inspire us to recount the faithfulness of our Lord over the past generations. We have an opportunity to connect God's Faithfulness from our  ancestors to our present times and Praise our Lord. 

The Creation of Adam- Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel

The Creation of Adam- Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel

I had the opportunity to take this picture 2018

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Collaboration and Foresight

When Nazarene, my wife,  asked me the difference between Independence Day and Republic Day I thought it would be good to revisit the meaning of Republic, even as we celebrate our 71st Republic Day tomorrow. 
The Oxford Dictionary  gives  this definition : A state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.
A quick search into history tells us that India became an independent nation on the 15th of August 1947 when the British Rule ended. They appointed a Governor General Mr. C Rajagopalachari who was the representative of the British Sovereign and head of State of India. India formed its constituent assembly who created our constitution and on November 26th 1949 this constituent assembly gave us our constitution and declared ourselves a Republic on the 26th January 1950.
The most critical aspect of being Republic is that there is no Monarch to rule over us and we take responsibility for our governance. Of the 220 plus countries in the world, thankfully 120 are Republic, we have about 29 Monarchs ruling over 43 countries and 7 are Theocratic states while regrettably over 50 that are dictatorships and Authoritarian regimes. Since the power is held by the people being a  Republic makes us accountable to ourselves.
I thought this aspect was beautifully illustrated through two small creatures from nature which are the Ants and Locusts. The Proverbs say it succinctly “ The Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer”  where as the “locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks”.
Powerful lessons can be drawn from the ants and locusts. Both are in a manner ‘Republic’ especially as the ants display foresight, planning and assiduous working towards their goal while the locusts are a fantastic example of collaboration and working towards common purpose. Pristine equality of status and opportunity.
Let us look at the preamble to our constitution which is admirable and is worth reviewing on occasions such as these.
WE, The PEOPLE of INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens:
Justice , social, economic and political;
Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all
Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
In Our Constituent Assembly this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, Do Hereby Adopt, Enact and give to Ourselves this Constitution.

As Indian citizens we have chosen to be self governed and self regulated. Since it is our choice we are accountable to ourselves.
I believe being truly Republic comes alive when we are able to collaborate  for a common cause with wisdom and  foresight  while executing with diligence.
Wish you a meaningful Republic Day.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Three Wise Ones

I am grateful for the  gifts we enjoy and take for granted that of Health,  Family, livelihood, friends amongst  a long list.

This  year  in   matter of  a few weeks  between August and October 2019, I met  three persons and each of them made me reflect  and think about the blessings I have.
As a respect to their  privacy I shall not  disclose their  names  but perhaps since you may know  my  common friends  and could  figure them out, in which  case do say a prayer for them.

Edith  turned 91 recently and had expressed a desire to meet me.  I thought it was  special as I am of her many acquaintances and yet she chose me.   Edith, a spinster,   has been home bound since the last  few years due to various health  issues including the big C.  She also  experiences severe  pain in her arms almost every day. Even her food intake is restricted due to age. I managed to meet her the next  day after her birthday.  The  one room apartment  had many beautiful  flowers from the previous day. We just  sat and spoke to each other.  She was aware of Donald Trump and the state of our nation. Her mental agility was remarkable. Edith was a regular at the large cathedral  we used to attend as well. What struck me was however that even though she is unable to attend the  church services she keeps a portion of her offerings for each  week, including the special services she  misses.  Even though Edith  is in great pain,  her view was since she is alive, her life must be purposive. Her knowledge of  the Bible was amazing as Edith could  connect various promises of Jesus to her context.  I was also grateful she trusted me enough to disclose plans after her passing away.

Prior to any important event or  a  travel I rush to my barber  Karim, to trim my hair and beard. Karim who is about in his early forties has always been polite and professional and would not  speak unless spoken to.   We got speaking  this time  as I asked Karim how things were.  He narrated that it was only  4 months since he lost his wife to an illness.  He has two children and he has to balance  between taking care of his children and managing his earnings. There was a tinge of grief in Karims  voice but yet,  the here and now is important.  Perhaps he would not have  told me had I not asked him.

I met my classmate from  college Sahil after almost 4 decades  after we graduated. We are of the same age. Some one  told me that he was he had a physical ailment  but I did not  think there could be any but that thought lingered and I did not  wish to believe it. I was visiting Mumbai as Sahil lives there  and told him  where I would be staying. Sahil immediately  said lets catch up and said he would come to meet me.  I was secretly happy as I thought  I heard wrongly about  his physical condition and when we met that evening nothing seemed apparent.   As classmates do,  we caught up about  old times and  what we  did after college we also discovered  common friends in each of our lifes journey. Sahil was the eldest of two sons in his family.  After a while the dialogue was about the  family and I learnt that  he lost his wife about 20 years ago and did not  remarry.  As we spoke he also told me that he lost his parents  and younger brother  over the last  few years.  Then taking courage I asked him about his health, when  he said  Yes Emmy, I have had minor health issue, due to Diabetes one of my foot has been amputated from the ankleI did not know where to  look. Sahil had a resolute  smile and for him this was no setback.  In  fact he is a CEO  in a niche Logistics MNC and despite all his personal  setbacks he has been able to  turnaround  a loss making  India operations to become profitable and reliable, so much so that  his principals have asked him to  continue in this role and he does international travel as well. 

I treasure  the meetings with  Edith, Karim and Sahil and  claim my Christmas Gifts from those interactions.  For me the  these  Gifts  are  gratitude, resilience, and purpose. I suppose each of us  may  take away much from these narratives. In fact  I am grateful for the  gifts we enjoy and take for granted that of Health,  Family, livelihood, friends amongst  a long list. Wish you a very happy Christmas and a Blessed 2020.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Grace and Gratitude

Last week I had an event in the evening at office and a Bible study to attend. Both the events were followed by dinner. Nazarene, my wife, asked me, “Where will you have dinner today?”
While it took me a while to decide I also pondered over what Nazarene asked, and it suddenly hit me that question was in itself very profound. I had a choice of three places to have my dinner, the third being my home.  I thought of how blessed we were to be able to pick and choose where to eat.
I thought of two more questions on the subject during dinner that evening.
The second that came to my mind was, “What will you have for dinner today?” Many of us  have ample  choice of what can be put on our plates  things like choice of ingredients and  cuisine as well. There is a lot of food to eat.
The third question that floated in my mind was, “Is there dinner today?” In many homes this is a question that is more of a rule than an exception. People struggling to put two square meals together, or breadwinners  trying very hard to provide for their families.
Many years ago  one evening Nazarene and I drove around to  give away some leftover food. We found an elderly lady near a railway gate and gave her the  packet. Her spontaneous response on receiving  the packet was “ Thank you very much sir, God Bless you.” She  had not even seen the cold food yet she was brimming over with gratitude unconditionally.
I realise that each of these questions come from a different orbit  we are in our  lives. We may not  have answers as well however our attitude could be one of Grace, Responsibility or Gratitude.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Marching into 2018 with Delight and Gratitude

A lot has been said  about airlines this  past year with decibels and trolls taking  centre stage.
As we  close the year I wish to recall to incidents one which delighted me and the other warmed my heart with  gratitude.
I was on a late evening  flight  from Trivandrum to Pune to  accommodate  business meetings at Trivandrum. It was scheduled to leave at 2150 hrs and I had a comfortable aisle seat somewhere in the middle of the aircraft.  I was concerned about  missing my connecting flight with the  same airline when the  staff assured me that the same  aircraft would take  me to  Pune.
At Bangalore, I was one amongst the few through travellers and in a short while the aircraft was almost filled up. Much to my satisfaction, we had an on-time departure for Pune. Once we were  airborne and the food service was in full swing, the  passenger seated on the  aisle next to me suddenly belched loudly. I sensed what was about to come and took out the air sickness bag but alas! I wasn’t quick enough. He showered his seat and floor with the food he had eaten earlier,  One of the flight attendants ushered him away to the closet to assist him
In  a  few minutes the senior-most flight attendant arrived, surveyed the  scene, and enquired after me as well.  She quickly went back and returned with gear to handle such situations.  She  put some granules which she explained to me that would  absorb all the  wetness quickly. The area was covered with  tissue thereafter. She also  sprayed some  perfume around the  area to prevent smells from interfering with our  journey.  Since I was closest to this scene of action,  she offered me a seat middle seat in one of the front rows and escorted me there. What touched me was the ease  this  Senior took charge and  went about her task seemingly nonchalantly.  She could have offered some ‘on the job training‘  to one of her junior crewmates, but chose to lead by serving.  I am delighted by the  leading  lady  and on-board staff of  6E 445 of Indigo  on the flight of  10/12/2017.
But that isn’t all. Here’s another pleasant experience, even more recent than what I just described.
We went to  Bhubaneswar  earlier this  week. I have to take some medicines to counter some of the lifestyle issues I face.  I took a pill on the flight. I failed to  immediately put back my  medicine pouch into the  bag. We checked the seat pockets before  deplaning and found everything in order. On reaching our place of stay I discovered the loss of my pouch. While I located a chemist and  purchased what was needed,  I felt bad for my loss. A few days later, before leaving Bhubaneswar, I went to the  airline reservation counter and asked about my  medicine pouch.  The staff was alert and asked me to describe my possession which I did. In  a minute he found it in the cupboard of the office and gave it to me.  I showed him my boarding  pass and  he mentioned that they  found it  3 rows ahead and actually contacted the passengers seated over there.  They do have a process to help forgetful  passengers unite with their  things. This is a ‘thank you’ to the crew of Go Air G8 244 of 27th December and  Ground Staff of  Go Air at Bhubaneswar Airport.
I think these silent workers are building the brand equity of these airlines.
It is lovely to enter 2018 with  a feeling of Delight and gratitude.

Emmanuel David  December 31st 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Good Friday Meditations at Christ Church

I had the Blessed opportunity to lead on the meditations on the words of Jesus from from the Cross at the Christ Church on Good Friday ( 14th April 2017) along with Rev. John Silas.
I spoke on the First Word- Father Forgive them that they know what they are doing.
The Fourth Word - My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
The Fifth Word - I Thirst and
The Seventh Word - Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.
Rev Silas spoke on the Second Word - Today you will be with me in paradise.
Third Word - Behold your son: behold your mother and the
Sixth Word - It is Finished.
Preparing for my meditations was over the last few weeks helped me internalize the passion of Christ and the words He spoke and to reaffirm my own Faith.
In addition to the service, Rev. Silas also placed 12 symbols of Good Friday in the Church for the congregation to to look at and experience during the service, Eg there were palm leaves, dice, a crown of thorns, really long nails and a heavy hammer, betrayal money and a rooster ( this was prepared by Nazarene David as he could not source any in toy shops and getting a real one would have had it crowing during the service). All members walked through the church looked at the symbols, held them, felt them and got a glimpse of what went through 2000 years ago.
In addition to the above symbols there was a large cross in the vestry ( side room of the church). Along side the cross was some paper, small nails and a hammer. Here the members symbolically wrote down on a paper what their short comings and sins they wished to overcome and hammered this paper in to this wooden cross. It was a solemn act of penitence and nailing it on the cross. Soon the bare cross was dotted with several pieces of paper nailed on to it. Personally for me the act of nailing my sin and shortcoming was not easy. The very act of driving the nail in to the cross sent shivers into me and hopefully would be my conscience keeper.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Liberty Rests On The Foundation Of Responsibility

The days that led up to my first day at college were filled with a lot of preparation and anticipation.  I had  gotten two new trousers and shirts tailored. Stationery options were reviewed too. I had taken extra photos for my concessional bus and train passes, which needed to be purchased. My college was in the suburbs of Chennai, which meant a 30-kilometre train journey just one way.  The institution itself was legendary and honour rolls boasted of some of the alumni who featured as the who's-who in the country. The 350-acre wooded  campus with co-educational residential facilities was a delight to be in, though I was to be a day boarder. I wondered about all these things  and anticipated how college would be.
The night before my first day, my parents sat me down in our three-roomed house and  told me they were happy that I was going to college. As my mother looked at me lovingly, my father said, “Son, tomorrow you leave home for college and we wish for you to study well.  We are aware of the temptations present there on the campus, like smoking, drinking or  drugs but we trust you. You are our son and you will choose wisely and be responsible. However, you are also free to do what you like and if things don’t  work out well, remember that we as your parents will always love you”
What was told to me that evening was not just a few words of wisdom but also a promise of trust and unconditional love. Even after four decades, that little heart-to-heart chat is still vivid in my mind. Those same words came alive recently when my daughter Esther  chatted with me on Whatsapp one late evening when she was in Amsterdam. This is how it went:

Esther:  Dad, today my friends and I went to pub in Rotterdam and most of my classmates ordered alcohol. It was the first time they tried it out. They insisted that I should have some too.
Me:  Okay  (At this point I was curious about what was to come next)
Esther:  I said no, but they told me that no one would find out.
Me: Go on, Es.
Esther: Well, I stood my ground and didn't have any.
Me: I am proud of you, my darling.

September 2016 USA Pic Emmanuel
What was imparted to me by my parents has been passed on. In our youth, we have several avenues to make choices; some good and some bad. Some are life-threatening, while 
others are not so. My father’s words once again echoed in my mind when I visited the U.S.A a few months ago. I saw the Statue of Liberty in New York City, and what a sight it was! Seeing the Statue of Liberty in real life is something different. It’s a massive structure that is so big, it had to be transported in several pieces before it could be erected as one. We  always look at the  Statue of Liberty and crave for freedom to do things in the ways we wish to. Gazing up, I noticed that Lady Liberty stretches out towards the sky while remaining grounded on a strong foundation. It has weathered many a storm and wind because of its foundation.

That evening Esther and I concluded that the Statue of Liberty is what it is because it is built on the Foundation of Responsibility. In that same manner, the freedom that we humans crave for  must be rooted in responsibility for our actions and their effects.