Y B A Pilgrim on Pilgrimage

 

At Pashan -Loyola’s Retreat Centre , Pune
Batim Goa
Chapel on the Hill- Batim Goa

For many years I have pondered on the importance of Pilgrimages and why so many flocked to these places. I always believed that the Almighty God is present everywhere, so why do we need to go to specific places.

In some way I got my answer when I visited Lourdes. You may have heard that the water of Lourdes is miraculous, and the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette several times at that place.

The amazing thing was that I experienced a deep sense of peace at the Grotto, and actually tears streamed down my cheek. I was quite confused,  but totally overwhelmed with this time of grace.

It came a lot clearer, when I entered the waters of Lourdes, to  once again  experience renewal of my baptism. As I stepped out , my face shone and I was overjoyed to see the brilliant sunshine around me. So yes , now I did have some understanding of the ‘why’ of pilgrimage.

The volunteers, explained that the real meaning of going to the waters, was to first repent for past wrongdoing and then believe In the new life in Christ, through being baptized in those waters.

I have subsequently been to a few places and it makes a lot more sense as to why we visit ….not only once, but again and again.

Some of the places are at Retreat Centres….. I visit often Loyola’s Retreat Centre at Pashan , Pune.

Then there are numerous others, the most famous being the Divine Retreat Centre at Potta.

In Goa there  are the miraculous Holy Crosses  at Bambolim and  Morjem.

Batim is one more, where the location was seen in a vision by a lady from Canada . She subsequently discovered it and the venue is now a place where people flock to pray, as many devotees have received answers to prayer.

So I come back to my quest as to why do we flock to places of pilgrimage.

Do we receive answers to prayer only at these places; and why not at other sites.

Do you remember Moses in the Old Testament of the Bible, encountering God in the burning bush ?  He was so overwhelmed that he went to check it out physically, but was told not to come near as it was Holy ground.

What can we conclude from these phenomenon?

Only one thing is clear. The Holy Almighty God will reveal Himself to many who seek Him, and then we can respond to this verse:

‘Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened.’

May all my dear friends on this pilgrimage of life, finally encounter the Lord face to face and experience His Awesome Love!

 

A matter of Time

Thelma had  only a day left for a whole lot of things to do before leaving for a long drive to Mumbai.

She and Timothy her husband were on a short holiday in Goa.

So on Friday, she spoke to Sebastian their man Friday, who willingly agreed to bring his car early morning , precisely at 8am to help her.

Next morning Thelma had a quick breakfast and was ready for Sebastian…Timothy was all set to have a late breakfast , and then do some house chores before departure next day.

Its 8am….8.10…8.15 am    Thelma calls Sebastian,” Have you left?” He replied “ I am just leaving; I had a request order to prepare a curry for Victor.”

Its now 8.20am….8.25 am….Thelma cannot wait any longer… the sausage woman gave a time of 8.45am for the purchase of sausages…then 9-9.30 am was the time for the refill of gas cylinder.

“ Ok Timothy, I am going; I will give you a call in case I need any help.” And so Thelma quite irritated, went in a rickshaw to the market place.

Timothy prepared a sumptuous breakfast with eggs and fresh roties….He just about started when he got a call from Thelma, “ You better come and pick me up; I will be at the corner of the village road at Taligao.”.”  Timothy sighed “Yes, dear I will come. “  There’s no sign of Sebastian.

Timothy gobbled his breakfast and in quick time , got  ready and drove to the Taligao corner.

As he reached , so did Sebastian… and Thelma in the hot sun , with her bags, was walking towards them.

Here started the fire works….not aloud, as you will imagine… but the ‘look’ and the scowl was enough. That was the end of Sebastian… Very apologetically he said “ I can take you now.” But Thelma just walked to Timothy’s car and said “ Next time, you please tell me , when you have  work in hand, and that you cannot come “

“ You know, the Sausage woman could wait.’ said Sebastian

Thelma interjected “ Yes, but do you know that there were so many customers waiting to buy those sausages for even a higher price. So why would she wait for me?”

Besides the gas cylinder had to be picked up before the truck left for distribution in other parts of Panjim before 9.30am, and we are leaving for Mumbai tomorrow.”

Sebastian very meekly, kept silent.

Timothy drove off to the Gas Distributor along with Thelma.

However Sebastian followed Timothy’s car , and made up with a good deed of showing them the way to the gas distributor’s office.

Thelma and Timothy completed their round of things to be done thereafter, and returned home.

There was no sign of Sebastian.

“Was he upset? He is so helpful and must be quite embarrassed” conjectures Timothy.

“He had to go to Dona Paula for some work , which will keep him occupied for the full day” said Thelma.

As night approached,  there was still  no sign of Sebastian. The couple then packed their bags, and loaded their car.

Next morning they left on a long journey to Mumbai.

Wait a minute. Do you think that Sebastian will ignore them or keep this grudge for all the mess which happened.

At about 8am , Thelma’s mobile phone rang “ How are you all?  Where have you reached? Is everything ok?” enquired Sebastian…… a few hours later……. he enquired again…until Timothy and Thelma reach Mumbai safely.

Thought: 1) How can Sebastian balance his  work and also please  people dear to him with his good deeds?

2) What is so significant at the end of the story?

An Illusion


Is it permanent,

that which I can hold

and cherish;

For a time and yet

not for long

that which I have

to let go.

And yet it seems

a challenge

to love and relinquish

to grow and go

to places that beckon;

I see only dimly

but cannot go

but only let go.

Each one on his way

a pilgrimage of life;

Perchance I meet some

on this way;

Let me cherish

these times

hold memories

one can return to,

when life seems

an Illusion.​

REMINDER (Do I need it?)

 

When the word reminder is  split into 3 parts it will look like re-mind-er

In other words , it is something which I have in mind, to remember and do. How will you respond to a reminder. Does it make you happy?

I can share some of my own experiences specially when it comes to being given reminders from my better half. It irritates me sometimes. Why? Well, I know that this involves something which needs to be done somehow, and immediately, or it may refer to events , meetings, or oft times forgotten moments.

I reflect on the reasons why I dislike reminders..Is it because I think I know it all, and do not need reminders. Or does  it pressurizes me , when I have a busy schedule.

There are times when reminders  come even through  scripture.

Today I read from 1 Peter 5: 1-10  which speaks about how a leader of people should be like a shepherd of a flock entrusted to him  ‘not simply as a duty but gladly, because God wants it. . This reminder brought me back to the time when I was installed as a Coordinator of a Community , and it was clear that this leadership meant to ‘ never be a dictator over any group that is put in your charge, but be an example that the whole flock can follow.” (1Peter5:3)  Today this reminder can be so helpful to leaders in all walks of life.

Soon after this I read in the following verses of the same chapter ‘Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat, Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that your brothers all over the world are suffering the same things.’ ( 1Peter 5: 8,9)  This reminded me of the time I was on tour with my wife and she was robbed of her bag, which contained cash and her passport. It was quite disturbing , and we felt stranded in a foreign country without any help. At that time , my daughter, spoke to me on the phone and told us to read this particular verse from the bible. It gave us such consolation and strength, and we were then prepared for the challenge ahead.

So reminders can be God sent messages to help us in life, to keep us on track.

In the corporate world, what would happen if the secretary to the boss, did not remind him of his flight date and timing for important meetings. Reminders will also help him to prepare for important discussions ahead.

In life’s road , reminders serve to guide us on the path to an eternal destination. These will come in many ways. Are we listening? Or will it be like the Tin man in the  ‘Wizard of Oz’; he certainly does not know his way, and causes others to lose their way too. Reminders are like the compass or Lighthouse, which guides ships out at sea or near the coast.

When I am alert, and heed these reminders, I can be sure,that

‘I am on the right path’………..So let us all welcome ‘reminders’ with a smile.

 

Cyril’s Surprises

IMG_0158When you meet Cyril

DSC_0008 (2)Alphonso, you will be surprised. He is more tech savvy  than an average youth, inspite of his age ( 82years). He started off as a radio operator, but also held many posts at different times, when sailing with Wallem’s shipping Company.

My earliest memories as a young boy, was to see him at his verandah, giving us a wave of his hand in greeting. One vivid moment was, when he caught a kite that drifted into his balcony; he called out to me and handed over that precious piece of flying paper, which gave me great joy.

He was at that time one of the few am radio operators in India. He still operates under the code name VU2AY. Before satellites existed, the am radio operation was a sure way of communication in times of disaster or wars. Even today, the am radio  community of operators exists, and are in touch with one another.

His knowledge has since increased to computer stuff, which consists of hardware and software.

He has been of great help to the nearby St. Isabel’s School, where he started the Computer department. Subsequently he provides assistance to any person in need of old computer equipment for which he is adept at upgrading or providing solutions.

The miracle of Cyril, is that he now lives a second life. He was seriously sick and hospitalized. We wondered how he would come through after major stomach operations. But he has rebounded back to normalcy with a bang. After spending a lot of time being bed-ridden, he now walks around the neighbourhood. His faith in God, has given him this new lease of life.

Cyril is gifted with a knowledge of multiple languages i.e  English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, and Gujarati, and has the desire to learn even more of the local languages in India.

He has a compilation of spiritual music, and teaching modules which he has saved over the years.

But today, he is keen on passing on this treasury of knowledge in diverse streams , to his family and friends, rather than seeing it all going to waste. I am one of his beneficiaries.

Cyril has updated knowledge of all matters of the village specially in regard to the leased land.  He has made it a point to study old documents which provides relevant information when needed.

I got to know Cyril better during my visits with Holy Communion to his home. But with improved mobility, he made it a point to attend the Eucharist daily, in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers, at Matharpacady.

I was in the midst of this article , and had not completed it for some weeks. Suddenly one day I got to know that Cyril had a heart attack, and was admitted to hospital for immediate surgery.

I was away from home, during this time, on a retreat;  I prayed that I may see Cyril well again, on my return. And yes, this wish was granted.  I was overjoyed to see him back home. He is slowly recovering, and his family is around him to shower him with their love and care. Cyril’s wife Sydel is a devout lady, and they have been happily married. A few years ago they celebrated their golden wedding. They have two sons and a daughter, who have all started families of their own.

A walk with Cyril, would be a slow walk , but with a lot of talk!

We wish Cyril many more fruitful years in the quaint environment of Matharpacady.

Note: the pic shows Cyril with his grandson, at his balcony…

Remain in my love

 

 

The Glory of the morning was evident when the sun’s rays highlighted the beautiful flower we call the Morning Glory. It is a very commonly seen flower which grows profusely on fences and makes an excellent screen.

However I write to  share my thoughts on the way God’s love helps me to face difficult moments, which is reinforced  by  observing the beauty of the Morning Glory.

Inspite of all the rigors of nature , the sunshine brings out the best in this beautiful blue flower.

I reflect on this, and realize, that all problems are not that easy to solve on my own. Just taking time off , and being quiet in the Lord’s presence like the flower basking in the morning sun, is a good reminder that the Lord’s wisdom is sufficient, provided I am quiet and have an attitude of listening.

So every day, whenever I face tough decisions or problems, I remind myself : It is time to be quiet and cast my burden on the Lord. His grace and wisdom is sufficient. He brings out the best in me.

Thank you Morning Glory for being such a good example of being open to God’s Love.

Let not bitterness, hatred and strife, steal you from this love of God.

In John 15:9 Jesus says’ As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.

Remain in my love,’

The Sparkling Diamonds

 

At sunrise I glimpsed through the tall trees and saw the sun peep through the foliage of various trees. I stood admiring  its rays streaming through to me.

And behold, I saw the spider’s web. It  may sound so mundane, a web, which every household seeks to banish away for the clean look. However, this was extraordinary.

The sun’s rays shone through the web and it glistened like diamonds in the sun. The exquisite work and design of the spider struck me. Surely it was not waiting to be applauded for such beautiful work. Yet  this was a masterpiece.

I reflected about the gifts and talents that so many of us have and are still in the process of discovering. Do I wait for approval from others or  should I revel in them and bring out the best in what has been gifted to  me.

What matters most, is that I do my best, like the spider. At the end of  the day, my contribution is for a purpose, and once that is fulfilled , it really does not matter about the accolades or brickbats.

Any talent grows when it is used  for  the common good of those around us.

Let us not glorify ourselves , but be grateful and glorify the One who freely gives us these abilities, talents and skills .

There are many master pieces waiting to be discovered!

Come to a better place

DSC_0126 (2)

I walked slowly and kept looking at the different plants by the roadside.

I saw one plant, quite tall, but most of its leaves were wilting. I ask this plant , “why do you look dejected. “The response from the plant seemed like “ It is my age that is showing”

Then suddenly I noticed a few tiny leaves, and shoots from one of the old branches peeping up. This  surprised me, and even encouraged me.

Surely there is a future for the old plant. Even though the old leaves wilt and drop to the earth; they  do not fall in vain.

The earth receives them into her arms and then gives birth to newness in other new plants and even leaves and shoots in the old plant.

So this set me thinking. Did not God call Abraham to a better place; to leave his immediate land and go to a foreign place.  What was Abrahams’s response? He trusted God and knew that God always gave the best. Even though he could not see it happening , he believed, and surely all throughout his life ,  he  looked forward to that better place.

Am I ready to bloom where planted and also to be ready to move to a better place when the time comes.

What appears to be slowing down, and diminishing is also ,getting ready for a better place.

The struggles of life, prepare one for a better life.

To abide with the Lord forever!!!

 

Our Mochi

 

His father Vithal Karande was the first  mochi in the village.

He is one of our  icons. None other than Ashok Karande our lean and  talkative mochi ( Hindi word for cobbler) We pass him by daily and he will always have a smile and a brief look at your footwear.

How is it today. Does it require a stitch or two? Or is it so dull and requires a shine like the brilliant sunshine.

He hails from a  family of traditional cobblers. He started in a big way, by stitching handmade shoes. …which were well made and quite well priced too!!

His father continued with usual repairs and shoe shines, in a different location of the village adjacent to a big bungalow. Ashok was given pride of place in a makeshift workplace under a staircase of a house, which serves has his ‘Operation Theatre’.

Now you will wonder why? He loves to call the shoes that he receives for repair, as his ‘patients’.

One of his immediate concerns is to ensure that “ Patient’s cha operation zala, thari, gari la , patnar “ ( The moment the patient’s surgery is done, he has to be sent home) so he says i.e He requires the finished shoes to be handed over, as he has limited place.

I was stunned to see him one day at the nearby Dockyard Road Railway Station. He had changed to his civies (normal attire) unlike his work clothes, which is a loose fitting pyjama, and top.

I enquired, after a brief struggle to recognize Ashok in  his changed appearance “ Kai, Ashok,  tumcha office sutli kai? Ani gari chalale? “   He then replied “ Ho,office sutli, pan, tumchi patient ajun gari nahi geli.” ( What Ashok, you finished for the day and going home? He replied” Yes, but your patient has still not gone home.”  In other words, ‘ you better ensure that you take your finished shoes home’.

In today’s world, where there is a throwaway culture, Ashok belongs to a slowly disappearing breed of cobblers, who still plays an important role in the village of Matharpacady. His place also serves as a meeting point for a little chat for some of the passersby.

Matharpacady itself is one of   a few preserved villages of quaint bungalows in the heart of South Múmbai,  struggling to retain its stature and resilience of old.  However Ashok gives us a  message that come what may  we can still retain oúr ‘ identity’ in a fast changing world.

These shoes were made for walking…….and when you need to look after them:

Just contact Ashok Karande, and he has  a solution for all ailments that affect ‘ leather shoes’, laced with some humour if you have time for a chat.

 

( Interesting characters of Matharpacady village, ….to showcase the traditions of more than 150 years old Heritage precinct…..now a tourist attraction , specially for the passengers of the Cruise liners)

PS: This blog has been reposted to include Our Mochi’s real name and his pic, with permission.

The Struggle 

 

He never gave up. He was of mild build, with intense eyes. His school days were like any other boy of his age. He studied well and participated in games and did well in his exams.

But his struggle started in college. He suddenly discovered a sense of freedom. He was popular in the class. He took part in sports and even captained the hockey team. The girls in his class liked him and this is where he stumbled . He got so involved with sport and his special friends that he just could not balance his life between sport, study and friends.
His first year was good and he succeeded in doing well. A key point in his studies was the method involved. He had always studied from notes prepared by the teacher in school days. Now times had changed and in college he had to either make his own notes from class lectures and reference books or then take the help of guide books.
With no proper system in place he left things to the last and when the time for exams came up, he would just crash. He never knew what had hit him ; this seriously affected his performances in exams and later led to him not appearing for some exams.
The struggle went on, into professional college with several changes in the chosen streams.
His breakthrough came about when one day he visited the college library. He borrowed a text book and tried his hand at making his own notes . ……It was then that he tasted success. He never looked back and thereon persevered through several other challenges.
How did he make this breakthrough. Two things happened . He had a mother who prayed for him daily, through all his struggles. He too discovered that his time of prayer with the Lord actually helped him immensely, and he gave a minimum of one hour of his time in prayer with the Lord.
This very struggle helped him to persevere and never give up. In his very weakness he discovered a loving Heavenly Father. It was then that his life changed from being indecisive and helpless, to a more confident man. He went on facing every challenge in the strength of the Lord, “ when I am weak I am strong” (2Corinthians 12:10), thus taking every one of them in petition to the Lord.
He was blest to be lifted from nothing to something. He wore many caps and now faithfully serves the Lord. That man is the one who writes this about his struggle and the result!!!