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The Void

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you ! (St Augustine)

Who can fill it?
The more you try,
the more it becomes futile ;
Think of the best in the world ;
It’s all so temporary.

Nature in all its grandeur ,
Love of family,
Pursuits of interest
Romance of life .

Does success,
Money,
Position,
Power
Mean anything?

So how does one fill this void?
My friend,
Our hearts were made for Him.
In Him , you will find fulfilment
The love, peace and joy ,
that no one can give .

So if you are searching
Rest a while;
And know that

When you seek,You shall find
When you knock ,it shall be opened,
When you ask of Him,
It shall be granted.

He can fill every void ,
is ever present ,ever loving ,
He is the beginning and the end
The alpha and the omega,
And seeks to dwell in the silence of our hearts .

Do you have room for Him ?

Why slow down

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My favorite cup

Years ago I remember reading a comic strip with some humour to it…Slo Jo was a cowboy, who faced the Ketchup Kid…. It was not the usual gunfight however. Here the test was on who could down the burger faster…    The Kid finished his burger rapidly….and then  watched Slo Jo relishing his burger with Ketchup   , taking his own time… the lesson for the Kid… , enjoy the burger…what is the hurry?

I think , many of us are immersed in work, and have a problem of time… we  become busy, stressed and worry about work to be done…

I am sure we all had coffee/tea breaks..but was it like the Ketchup Kid or like Slo Jo

Often the best moments are when  one actually savours the moments either alone or with friends.

I have tried coffee from  roasted coffee beans ground and filtered…. with a dash Sheridan .

……slowly like Slo Jo…while I smell the coffee, savour the taste ..and appreciate the situation around me… my friends, colleagues, family or just connecting with nature …

Time passes by… I see some of my good friends who have worked hard and done well in their careers. One case stands out. Today he has been overwhelmed with multiple health problems. And worse still  he has fractured his hip, and now  compelled to  bed rest.

I wonder at such traumatic changes. Does it really matter, how much I have achieved?

Have I savoured the times I enjoyed with family and friends.

Importantly have I looked at my eventual goal in life?

This will not be easily accepted. We plan for holidays and so much more.

“Do you know where you are going?” These are famous words asked by the renowned basketball player Pete Mavarich, also called ‘Pistol Pete’, because of his brilliance in the game. He continued “ I know where I am going, and am preparing for it” A week later he died.

Our lives change when we are aware of our destination.

I too am aware where I am going, and I will certainly ensure that I prepare  for it every day.

Yet often when I even mention this, my family  does not like to hear any of it.

But is not death certain? Do you fear it?

There is no need to fear. Life does not end , but only changes.

‘If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are the most unfortunate of all people.

But Christ has in fact been raised from the dead , the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. (1Corinthians 15:19,20)

When this perishable nature has put on imperishability, and when this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the words of scripture will come true: Death is swallowed up in victory. Death where is your victory? Death where is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. So let us thank God for giving us the victory through our Lord  Jesus Christ.

(1Corinthians 15:54-57)

Are you afraid?

Then remember these words of Jesus  ‘  I am the living bread which comes down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh  for the life of the whole world.’ (John 5:51)

Jesus also assures us ‘ And know that I am with you always: yes to the end of time.’ (Matthew 28:20b)

So it certainly does not matter, how high or how fast one paces one’s life. Reality strikes, when one is faced with the inevitable.  Reflective moments are necessary; so when  you next take a coffee break, take time to smell the coffee and let your thoughts flow.

Patience

I asked for patience,

And my patience was tested.

It showed me

my lack of it

So will I still ask for patience?
And yet again see how far am I from it.
But try I must,
For true victory is
To conquer oneself.

How about wisdom;
Why not pray for it.
Money cannot buy it,
Just like love cannot be bought.
For wisdom comes from above.

And love?
It’s the only thing that lasts
Till the end.
Love overcomes evil,
And when one loves

You and I begin to learn Patience!

DSC_0034 (2)                           ‘Patience’ of a different kind- when I  photographed the butterfly!’

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!

The Waiting Game

 

(Rewards for patience)

Nothing comes easy ; specially when you have  to wait  for permissions, or sanctions . All around us , people speak of getting things done and facilitating the process by paying a fee ( I call it a bribe)

Do you agree ?. Does the  time factor decide whether it is right to bribe or not.

Who is guilty? The giver or the taker ? If there was no giver, would there be a taker?

My experience still upholds the age old ways of patience, persistence and prayer. Believe me it works .

Outstanding cases  for permissions are from the Municipal Corporation, Provident Fund department, and Collector’s Office. There are good people in these places. Please do not prejudge them, and conduct yourself on that aspect. Follow all the guidelines, and also followup; even if it means going 10,15 or 20 times..

When you respect others you  will be respected for your patience and honesty….why honesty. Because the giver of a bribe is dishonest and causes another to be dishonest.

Be happy when you taste success for your patience. The Lord above will bless you abundantly.

If anyone tells you that times have changed….please remember, honesty, respect, and love of neighbor will never lose value.

There is another angle to seeking expeditious help in such matters. Have you tried praying?

Not only for yourself, but even for those from whom you seek these permissions/sanctions.

After all authority is bestowed , and God answers prayers

When  the shoe is worn  on the other foot, you will see the difficulty that such authorities face in being just and honest. Most often , they have to deal with people who are ready to pay their way through , but they also face pressures from political sources in power.

Our ability to respect authority and accept the requirements for sanctions will be a big help for those who will eventually grant your requests.

I have been a beneficiary of following this precept, and have great peace of mind…

So remember, its always two way..

The waiting game is all about patience, trust and respect..

The correct use or abuse of the chair, will decide on two people : take a guess!

Do you believe? Are you ready?

Then be prepared for the ‘Waiting Game’.

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…………..

Trust and Be Free

Look at the birds and lillies of the valley

Do they strive?

The tall trees sway in all their grandeur,

Little birds flit across

As the bulbuls guard their nest.
Where is the strife and struggle

To make ends meet?

The pheasant crow sounds deep and low,

But is happy to care for its own

There is daily provision

Blessed assurance free of worry
So why do men struggle for daily needs?

Even the squirrel munches at tender herbs

The ant crawls to tasty morsels

A mongoose raises its head to check for food left over

And happy to tunnel for more
Have you wondered how the trees bear fruit

Without much ado

Save that of some water and air and some extras for manure

They still sway to say

Be happy, and don’t worry

The Master cares for us ALL

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith” (Matthew 12:28)

Julius my twin brother

This is a letter I wrote to Julius on  completing his 60th birthday…obviously we share the same birthday!

Sadly Julius has departed and I treasure these …….

Memories  on completing 60 years

 

There is a very special bond that most twins share and Julius and I are no exception. Even though miles separate us , we have much in common.

School days: we were a special unit , ready to support each other in any crisis , especially when It came to a school boy fight. Only once on the playing field at an interclass hockey tournament, we had to be in different teams. Julius being the bigger made , (probably better player?) went to the A team , and most surprising I became captain of the B team. Guess what??? The B team made it to the finals. …runners up to the another senior team.

Julius was also a very good table tennis player, and did well at the interschool tournament.

We were among the best mimics in those days, so much so that late Mr Theopilus Aguiar (  Principal St Xaviers College), on a visit to our place , dreaded leaving later, probably with the thought that we would mimic him.

In college, we gradually grew out of this close bond and learnt to be independent, something actually difficult for us especially for me who liked to depend on Mr Reliable.

The best memories  of our college days was our musical interests. Though I learnt the violin and Julius the piano; however Julius was very versatile and keen to take up the accordion and then the guitar. Those days were not very different from nowadays. Guitar playing , was something every teenager wanted to learn. I soon followed ….. who was my teacher? …. None other than Mr Julius . I will always remember him for that, as I did not have to go to a tutor. Chords , became so easy, when he showed me the circle of chord changes ,which is  the key to taking any pitch for accompaniment. We even performed as a duo.  The one and only time we did compose a song together….. Julius with the music and myself the lyrics , was, and for me still is the only original song ever composed so far by us. It had tremendous melancholic effect and could be sung in duet. The words also left one feeling very sad and soulful. But what an achievement for collegians in those days!!!!!

Athletics saw a study in contrast. Julius the more solid built did well in the sprints, whereas I specialized in the longer distance events .  At that time we detested to compete with each other.

Our hockey days saw us play for the same college team , and of course with Julius in the forward line and myself in defence, I saw to it that any rough tackles on Julius would be suitably reciprocated by me, at the appropriate time, with the opponent.

As we moved out of our academics, Julius progressed to finally get his Phd. Remember he had tremendous determination when he set his goals. However my tremendous struggles with organizing my study and especially  dealing with examination stress, led me to try out several courses till I settled with Hotel Management . However the Lord had a special plan in all these struggles , and he used me to help students many years later , when I went back into education to lecture and later become Principal of Naval Institute of Technology.

Our adult life also saw some very quaint features. Julius married Joslyn. Well two years later I married Joslyn’s very close friend Anjinha. Julius and I have such similar features , it was no surprise that on one visit , Joslyn mistook me for him …….. !!!!

After migrating to Canada, recent memories I cherish , are the times Julius and I have JAMMED up , with our guitars, keyboard, violin … and our wonderful voices. Most of all I appreciate the strong faith Julius has In God .

After all these years , Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the one we give thanks for the wonderful years He has blessed us with. We look back …..and then look forward , ….with great joy to know that our Father is always there for us with open arms. God Bless you Julius. Have a very Happy and Blessed 60th Birthday this August 17th 2011.

With Love,, Your Twin Brother  Vincent.

Now who gets the chance to hear.. , wish you the same …on a birthday?