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Through the Storms

WALKING WITH MY LORD

My Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has  been a pillar of strength and peace, during the past 6 months of a rollercoaster ride. The storms of life blew over but his presence was enough to see me through this phase.

Between September and November 2018 , I drove to Goa several times with Anjean, to prepare for our daughter Annalize’s wedding, Goa being  the venue.

However in November I began to have a throat problem , which did not get cured with antibiotics . As the problem persisted , I consulted a specialist who observed a small mass on the tonsil during the oral examination. Subsequently , he advised that a biopsy be done, which led to the early diagnosis of Non Hodgekins Lymphoma.  Dr Jaquie was very helpful at  the Hinduja Hospital, from  that first instance as well as during my regular hospital visits for the chemotherapy later.

In November I also got a shock to know that my investments with our trusted broker were in jeopordy , as his business had failed. His promise to repay everything , would remain a promise until he hoped to recover,  by merging his company with a bigger firm, in the near future.

I was diagnosed on 13th December 2018 , and  Annalize’s wedding was scheduled for 27th December 2018. The doctor calmed  us ,  specially Anjean and Annalize,  and mentioned that the early diagnosis was very helpful and the cancer could be treated and cured ( a blessing indeed).  He advised us to celebrate the wedding and commence my treatment soon after.

However due to the urgency and financial duress, I was constrained to take loans to meet with these challenges.

My son Ralph , was a big help at this stage. He had  come down from London for the wedding. All my family  proceeded to Goa which was the venue . He stayed back to help me with my visits to  the hospitals and so much more. I admired his steadfast approach , not knowing that he was quite upset himself.

Our celebrations in Goa went off very well.  The Lord had given me a total acceptance of my health condition. I took part wholeheartedly in the celebrations. My family too got over the initial shock and all went well .

We returned  to Mumbai on 1st January 2019 and my treatment commenced on 2nd January 2019.

For every  session , I was admitted to the hospital , to be administered the drugs. The specialist doctor and his team, and the nursing care, was excellent. The after effects of the chemotherapy, were at times very painful. Surprisingly  during  3 specific  occasions Romeo Fernando, leader of  the Community of the Good Shepherd,  telephoned me.  He  prayed  fervently with me , pleading of the  Lord for my healing ;  and with God’s grace  I was relieved from pain. His intercessory group prayed regularly for my healing. I cannot forget  my mentor Ken Knoecker ( Elder of the Servants of the Word) , for all the  prayer and support extended to me, during this time.   I also discovered , the aspect of sharing my suffering with the Lord, and interceding for others.

Members from my Community (Community of Jesus: Light of the World)  and the local Church and Communities ( Sword of the Spirit Communities)  from far and near  prayed for me. There was an outpouring of love as members regularly telephoned or visited me,  and also prayed with me.  People who I hardly knew as well as old friends,  assured me that they were praying for my healing and visited me.

My eldest daughter Karen with her family  from UK, specially changed their flight schedule, ( which involved a fresh ticket) to be with us for the first session. Subsequently my son Ralph took time off , for one month from his job in London ( while working from home) to be with us in Mumbai for the next sessions. Annalize too spent more than a month later and finally Larissa was with us in May.

I was administered 6 cycles of chemotherapy from January to April, and after the 4th cycle , the petscan showed that I was clear of cancer. Praise and thanks to God!

This was a time of great restoration and renewal. I had plenty of time to pray and read scripture. Importantly  , Ambrose  our community member brought Holy Communion for me daily, which was a source of healing and kept me positive and courageous.

Aroon willingly took up responsibility to lead the Community of Jesus: Light of the World , in my absence during these months. His numerous visits were an indication of a brotherly tie, which I deeply cherish.

I also saw bonds of brotherhood within my extended family being renewed. My two elder brothers, Allwyn and Gerald who are doctors, and my niece Joanne (also a doctor) , reached out to me in significant ways.

Anjean cared for me so well .  Diet and medicines were constantly monitored. So I came through these months peacefully.  Dane, a young man from the Youth group , was kind enough to drive us to the hospital on several occasions . Some of my community members also took time off to be with me at the hospital. But Anjean was my constant companion.

In the meantime , help poured in from various sources. I am truly overwhelmed at this support.

God showed me His love , through these brothers and sisters.

He also assured me that His provision is enough

A few days ago , when again  I experienced a setback, I was assured by the following words from scripture:

‘Give  us this day our daily bread ‘( Matthew 6:11)

( on further reflection and study, I was led to believe that daily  bread is for daily sustenance and not to accumulate wealth. Bread also signifies the Eucharist ,which is life giving.)

A little further :

‘ No one can be slave of two masters; he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’ ( Matthew 6: 24)

Matthew 6:25-34

‘ Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,  what you are to eat and what you are to drink, (Matthew 6:25a)………..‘But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.’ ( Matthew 6: 33)

Isaiah 55: 1-3

‘ Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty;

Though you have no money , come!

Buy corn without money, and eat,

and, at no cost , wine and milk.

Why spend money on what is not bread,

your wages on what fails to satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and you will have good things to eat

and rich food to enjoy.

Pay attention , come to me;

listen, and your soul will live.

listen , and your soul will live.’ (Isaiah 55: 1-3)

The Lord has revealed his love and care so much more during these days. He is truly my Saviour  and Healer and I can trust in his provision daily.

For this I say “Thank you Lord”

And “ thank you” to every person who has reached out to me.

Anjean was my constant support
Taking Annalize to the altar on her wedding day
With Ralph

THE PRESENT

 

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The blur of the past

Sustains the present

So I presume,

A storehouse of

good memories

And junked failures

 

Pray

Are these stepping stones

To a bright future ?

Can we bask

only in success;

And dismiss failures ?

 

Who can fathom the future

Except the One who is Timeless

His Presence sustains

Past, Present and future

A Gift to be cherished

Forever

 

He is the Alpha and  the Omega

The beginning and the end

Who holds us in the palm

Of His Hands;

Do  I trust Him?

Now ?

 

Combat or surrender

 

‘For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of  power and love and self control.’ ( 2 Timothy 1:7)

‘In Him we live and move and have our being.’ ( Acts 17:28)trekking

 

Times of change,

Challenges abound;

Do I fear?

 

At any age,

I hear of

Courage with a C

 

But there is a C

Cancer which oft

may counter Courage

 

 

How do I face it?

Fight or flight ;

Combat or surrender

 

The only way I see it,

Trust in His Spirit

Of power , love and self control!

 

He is ever near,

Holds us in his loving arms,

As a Father to a son

 

Am I willing to share this pain

With him on the cross

As  grace in abundance  flows

 

Accept with courage

And when unbearable

Surrender

‘into your hands, Lord’

 

And take each day as a gift

Not forgetting

‘To live is Christ and

To die is gain ‘

 

I am assured that its better to  surrender into His loving arms at all times, as

‘In him we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28)

 

Sounds at Sunrise

img_0503-3Listen,
Can you see, or hear, or imagine?
The majestic morn ,
As sunshine streams across ,
And every creature ,
Sounds present .

The sparrow flits through,
In search of the tasty morsel.
Parrots screech away…… I am hungry.
Crows caw lazily….before their day begins .

I also hear the sweep of a broom,
Does not persistence pay..
Imagine the day when the sweeper
Is away.

The sun rises ,
more seriously.
People plan their day
Pray , can we forget the
Beauty of creation?
In the midst of making ends meet?

An Artist – an encounter

 

You see a painting and then wonder at its meaning.

So I was privileged to meet Jamie Treadwell, and he shared how he works through process to reach a finish.

I asked him “ Do you have the end in mind while working through the process?”

“Not always”  was his reply.

He happens to be a Business/Life Coach.  He applies the Process to this aspect of his work too..

One example is using Music in his work as a coach, particularly a workshop with a live Orchestra as a metaphor for business.

He explains so well how creating harmony with instruments can be used as a process to study human behaviour in a team.

When the musicians play in harmony, what is our observation?

Naturally the entire reception of music is a wholesome one signifying Good organisation and team work.

As an example, anyone playing out of tune will display disharmony.

Also if all play aggressively then there is total disarray and is not conducive to

quiet and soothing environ and unity.

He was working on a cover for a music  album . Naturally the lyrics of the song needed to match , and he brought out this aspect with a boat moving towards its destination.

The Painting of Jesus on The cross, struck me with the passion of Jesus coming out so well. This was done during a live session with swift movements of his hand , in a matter of a few minutes

The suffering so real and intense.

Many paintings have a poem or lyric Jamie writes before it is painted. This comes with contemplation.

Abstract paintings with intense colours gives birth to more processes leading to the subsequent painting .

I saw mountains and rivers, and a raft going upstream.

Jamie shared that as an Artist one gets quite vulnerable.; just like an author, whose writing reveals his innermost thoughts.

Jamie is a Lifelong Brother with the Servants of the Word , which is a committed religious Christian order, who help in pastoring covenant communities around the world.

For this reason he also serves as business Coach… and all his paintings help in fundraising for various causes., especially for  youth outreaches.

With a tug of heart, (I loved the painting of JESUS), so the best I could get as a souvenir, was a photograph of the artist with his painting of Our Redeemer!

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Fare thee well Jamie!

Who are you?

for poem -who are you

Who are you

Is the question today;

Which region, country, or culture?

Is there a difference?

I meet men and women,

Rich and poor,

Of different race, religion, nationalities.

 

Who are your parents ?

Where is your family?

What binds or separates you

From others?

Can you understand?

I don’t !

 

I struggle to know,

Why?

If we belong to the human race,

Is there a difference in

Being human or just  a human being!

What is more powerful?

Love or hatred!

 

Have you considered :

To be strong is to be resilient,

That love overcomes fear ,

Behind every face ,

There is a story to tell.

We belong to one big family.

 

So I ask again.

Who are you?

Do you understand?

 

The Trees Passer

 

The little fellow Tim the sparrow flitted about searching for tasty morsels from the plants ; alongside was  Tiny his partner also foraging.  Most of  the gang of crows led by Doug unofficially claim the area of the huge Mayflower tree as their own.

Then far above we have a visitor McMoran. He is of medium size and has a tinge of green on his wings and head. He has an awkward squark and darts from one branch to another. Do I know his breed? He looks good and is very rarely seen in the vicinity.

What can you expect then? Lets count Doug and his gang. ..about a dozen, and getting into a frenzy.

“ Is that how you guys welcome me , a tourist ? “ questions McMoran

“ Says who? Are  you are a  tourist? “ caws Doug. “ You look like a trespasser.”

An upset McMoran squawks back “ And who decides who am I”

“ The May flower tree  has existed since the past 60 years; my great-grandparents nested here.” Replied Doug.

A nonchalant McMoran continued moving among the topmost branches . Who can stop him?

The chorus of caws increases, and strangely….subsides . The gang of crows realized that , numbers do not matter.    Courageous McMoran did not get blown away  by the aggressive crows.

What about Tim and Tiny. They finished their search for tasty  morsels and have enjoyed their time in the sun. Did they get overawed by the number of crows and their size?

Each is gifted differently. The ability to  use their gifts will decide their  future.  Every weakness is compensated by a strength.  What about the crow?  Does his appearance deceive you?

The crow is one of the most intelligent and sturdy birds. No wonder , beauty in this case does not matter. They care for their young and mourn for those who die.

Sparrows though small, send their young out early and they begin to fend for themselves.

Who was the visitor ? Dear reader, you need to help me as I can only describe this quiet tourist.

Lets hope he comes again with more of his kind. And may he be welcomed by all the natives of the good ole May Flower tree.

FREEDOM

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‘Ye shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” ( John 8:32)

Man has fought for freedom. To be free from all that chains one’s liberty.

So what is freedom? I wonder at the world around me. But then I see the birds in the sky , some on the trees above me. They languish  among the foliage. Their only  concerns are for the next morsel of food or to build a nest for the young. They stretch and sing and fly to different places.

I hear the screech of the parrot. Does anyone tell it to stop its sound ? Who defines boundaries and territories? Each one to his own place in this land. Who governs their lives? Who provides for their food, shelter and protection?

Yes no government can meet with standards to govern nature. Its only our beloved Father God our Creator who knows best. He has given each a measure of ability to live.

So what is freedom?

I may share what is not freedom. When a man subjucates another to deprive him of living a full life- and forces his way of thinking on another; then it is the beginning of slavery. It is also when truth is covered by lies, so that the common man is deprived of knowing his rights .

Any wonder that Rabindranath Tagore in his poem shared  his view on  ‘true freedom’

Where the mind is without fear

…Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high

Where knowledge is free

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments

By narrow domestic walls

Where words come out from the depth of truth

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way

Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit

Where the mind is led forward by thee

Into ever-widening thought and action

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake’ ……..

Man begins to live a life of freedom where there is trust and no fear.

So when you know the truth , the truth shall set you free.

Pilate said to Jesus, ”What is truth?” (John 18:38)

Have you sought this answer?

Seek the Lord first and you will find all the answers.

‘’ Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock, the door will be opened to you.

For the one who asks always receives; the one who seeks always receives; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. ‘  (Luke 11:9-11)

And Jesus goes on to say ….’ If you then who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

So when you effectively pray and ask then and only then
will you discover the truth and you shall be free indeed.

Then you will understand why the birds and the fish and animals  live a life free of worries.

They trust their Creator implicitly for all their needs.

You will know then, that there is no need to stress and strain over what to eat and what to drink and what to wear. ( Luke 11:29) Your heavenly Father well  knows  you need them(Luke11:30b)

Know also that there are consequences, when man is deprived of his liberty or freedom.

History is replete with examples , that highlight good or bad govenance.

So once again, “ You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” . ( John 8:32)

Smell the Coffee

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I sit out on my terrace with the overhanging Gul Mohur tree. As I sip my coffee  and enjoy the grilled cheese  sandwich , I realize that I am  actually beginning to   smell the coffee.

The past two months have been so hectic, that there was just no time to stand (or sit)and stare. November and December vanished like the wind.

Memories flood back, and I savor all the visitors from far and near and specially my family visiting from London. Our home was so full ,  that naturally we were all out of our comfort zones but still happy.   A hasty hunt would either help discover things I needed  or leave  me dazed at being unable to do so.

It was a mix of meetings, both serious and also of fun. Travel became a part of this time, when we visited our home town in Goa. There was a week end at Matheran a hill station. And I did get an opportunity to walk ( a really long walk) with a Brother from London and was so fatigued that I also lost my favorite Nike cap. The most beautiful moment I treasure was to see my dining table surrounded by all my children and also two grandchildren. An eventful birthday celebration was preparing a ‘go jetters’ cake for my 4 year old grandson; he celebrated it with a few friends and later with the orphan children at Mother Teresa’s Asha Dhaan. My second daughter’s, birthday was eventful as her special friend proposed to her and there was an engagement the next day, in the presence of our two immediate families.

I wonder how these months passed. Christmas was so eventful ; there were moments of quietness in the Advent Recollection , Joyful  Thanksgiving services, Children’s Christmas parties, and one of the first ever…when the Eucharist was celebrated in the neighbourhood Cross Oratory for those of our sick and aged members who are unable to attend the church services.

These were times I was called upon to help in different ways. It was challenging but rewarding.

Then the New Year started with a bang!

We had our own Community Council meetings and Team meetings followed by presenting the Thrust for year 2018 for my church community. Through this also, it was only the Lord that I could rely for guidance .

And now as I gaze up to the widespread branches with the leaves providing cover from the midmorning sun, I see the pigeons, crows, wood barbets, all at peace.

Do they ever have a fast paced life? I see them preening their feathers. The crow cawing lazily. The wood barbet carefully observing me , a little away from the little round hole he pecked away in the bark, some days ago.

Looks like its time for his family to begin.

Then I remember this quote from  St Bernadette to her Sisters

“ Do not just be a channel for grace, but a reservoir, an overflowing reservoir. No sooner has a channel received grace than it pours it out. A reservoir waits to be filled up and then offers grace to those who come to draw from its superabundance.

If you do not act wisely, you exhaust yourself in senseless work.” (The Private Notes from the book ‘ A Holy Life –  The Writings of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes’)

Yes it makes sense to “smell the coffee” , with a friend and at times even when you are alone.

But really, are you ‘alone’ ?

‘ And know that I am with you always; to the end of time.’  ( Matthew 28:20b)

So the next time you have your coffee ( or even tea) savour the moment, listen……. and

……. and let your thoughts flow…………..

let your thoughts flow…………..

In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28)

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Life is a series of  stages and we move from one stage to another. I was young and had a different perspective towards age. Oft times I wondered why do retired people still seek to work when they should think of the many youngsters waiting to get suitable jobs.

However now the tables have turned. I am on the older side. Yes I still think it a good thing to help the young people get jobs. But then there are opportunities even for a person at my age. So which is better : to rust or to wear out.

I am reminded of this quote “ In Him we live and move and have our being.” So I begin to understand that at the different stages of life , the calling starts changing.

Its only when we are aware of the indwelling Holy Spirit that true wisdom and understanding begins  to take place. The Holy One helps me to discover more and more of the numerous gifts and talents that He has blessed me with. There is of course one corollary: Will I use this for myself selfishly or for the common good.

My perspective will change once I understand this. What I receive I share and help others.

The more I do this . the more am I blessed. The Dead Sea is an example of ‘receiving;’ without ‘sharing’ or ‘giving’. There is no life in the Dead Sea; this may also happen to a person who is selfish.

At this moment I thought of writing on the ‘Empty Nest’ Syndrome. But that would be a bit too pessimistic. When the Lord has blest me so much, who am I to cling to my children?

‘They come through you but not from you,

and though they are with you yet they belong not to you,

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts,

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams’ ….quoting Khalil Gibran.

So this Christmas when my whole family returns to India , to celebrate with Anjean and I, it is indeed time to rejoice. I will not think that it is only for  a short time and after that back to a quiet existence. As one preacher said “ Live every moment” as every moment is a gift from the Lord.

Advent is indeed a time of preparation. In a bigger way it is a renewed waiting for the Child Jesus in our hearts. I am so excited as I will indeed see my  grandchildren Samuel and Mary Ann and my children. Memories flood back to my childhood, when I too waited for Christmas . I may not have understood the full meaning of Christmas, but at that time it was Toys, Sweets and Family time…..Santa Claus a fantasy , which collapsed when we turned 11years old and  told the truth. The birth of Jesus , gradually took on a deeper meaning.

So what next? Families will come and go….. Come January normalcy may return. But will it?

There is One who is changeless. Let the mountains and hills disappear, and the seas roar away; the biggest miracle awaits , when you and I encounter the Holy One.  I don’t think I will ever regret this aging process. (By the way, a child begins to get old from day one)

There will be challenges, victories and defeats, sufferings, and failing health….but wait a moment……I will share something very special …I am one day closer to meeting my Lord face to face. This is a very reassuring reality. Do I want to go to heaven ? Yes for sure.

Then I too realise that I cannot experience the next stage without dying. Are you afraid? Am I afraid? Well when I forget the truth of who is with me then these are the few moments.

So it is important to know “ In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) , then joy will take over from sorrow, and then we can look at every day with hope for eternity.