I stepped out of the office, I was met by the image of the brown painted gate closing off the slippery rolling street.. filling my mind with a strange sense of a rooted bliss, it also brought in mixed elements of the surrounding town side with the pleasing sight of the faraway hills, the primitive cement streets with their uneven and dizzying surfaces and the pressed symmetrical homes that lined the departing roads that led onward towards the world’s end past fringe level settling’s and forgotten inheritances.., my mind was consumed with all sorts of pressing thoughts right now and I wanted to analyze them without the emotional pressures that often accompanied such things. The air had no songs of birds.. the breeze made one feel like everything was right in the world, I could spy monkeys on the tall network tower, asleep on the thin side bars that rose like the tower of babel towards the skies.
The shy young girl from the opposite house stared at me blankly as she held her skipping rope in her hands.. her face was pressed against the small gate that connected the purple painted walls… she wore a bright dress that spoke of visitors visiting their home later on in the evening… her face was washed, despite the salient residue of afternoon sleep… there was an awakened awareness of her surroundings which she communicated with her eyes … I felt the familiar power of existential anguish grip my soul… all around me were plain houses… the people there often made me feel disturbed for no reason.. I had nothing in common with anyone there.. I wondered if aside from my convictions if I shared any common trait with any of my fellow work colleagues ?
I gave her a mini smile, I felt nervous about that gesture.. I played a minor role in her life, everyday I attempted to briefly smile at her and make her feel appreciated and warm.. I was yet to have a meaningful conversation with her, I had superficially asked her questions in an order to get a picture of her for a photo album of mine.. she was very shy about it and had agreed to pose for one with her skipping rope… In all honesty I was shy too.. I was a gregarious loner in part, a clueless outsider slash recluse on most days, a philosophical hermit obsessed with books, with basketball and observations… but we were all occupying the same space and street as of now, I was one among the few strangers that she would remember later on in life were she to move some place else with lesser indistinguishable homes and more colorful backgrounds, my natural instincts were powerfully locked in in discovering a place where I could be alone and expend all of the unhealthy stimuli that I had accumulated by being in the office. But I no longer represented myself, I was slowly viewing every opportunity to make a stand of some nature for Christ. I smiled and waved at her, warmth was one of the essential ingredients in all human exchanges and one of the qualities that had greatly attracted me towards Christ… She greeted it with a dazed rush back to reality, probably her adolescent mind was deep in memories of metal swings and bold speeches given in front of her friends and proud parents at school functions. I moved on, I wanted to feel the touch of my Master deep in my world weary soul.
I needed to sit still for some time and commune with the Lord, questions were piling up in the dozen and I needed to address them before I forgot them and they ended up as that dark instinct that contributed to the power of fear. Earlier I would seek beaches on my bike, walk to silent cemeteries with a billion invisible memories and lonely gardens to fulfill such a desire, but I was in the town right now and not the city, there were limited opportunities here… people here viewed every act with prejudice and fear. I needed a silent place with no human interference, filled with plenty of trees… Not that many years ago, I had practiced Zen, the art of mindfulness and awareness… I had been a seeker back then, and the spiritual ideology had greatly appealed to me… with its mystic sense of preparing the restless mind to sink deeper into a peace borne of detaching the ego from a direct encounter with the existential anguish trapped in plain outer life. But I had been saved from the deceptions of my former life, I had discovered the powerful effect of prayer, I routinely experienced the sweet refreshing of the Lord’s grace and I know that heart that always strives to remove me of my earthly burdens and sorrows.
In my writing career, I can sense the great and dire need for mindful attentiveness, each nuance, each impression and word needs utter silence and inward attention to progress. In my life, I can sense that a great truth requires quite possibly a lifetime to understand and accept, each day I taste new mercies in my spirit bestowed upon me by the creator, I find myself forgetful of the billion sorrows and remembrances of yesterday, I find myself more courageous on account of God’s radical grace, more healthy, more eager and more resilient… a few minutes back I had been talking with one of the young assistants in our ministry. A lean youngster with a sensitive soul, innocent of the world and fixed in his views of the world even though all he had known were lush green villages with trees and rocky hillocks. Yet this young mind offered fresh and piercing insights about the human condition, he meant for them to be accounts and reports of his colleagues, but in a way they transcended the records of those souls who now resided within our office and extended into an examination of the human race and their peculiar affinity for dysfunction, rot and contempt despite ideal conditions. I remembered telling a friend once that the most unpredictable commodity or belonging in this world was that of the human condition. There are no guarantees or expectations as it pertains to understanding what the human being is capable of doing.
The youngster was very firm in his views, he believed without a doubt that one comrade of ours was cunning and manipulative. That he merely portrayed a facade designed to impress and gain the trust and affection of the others. Which he then used as a tool to increase his own self worth, often in prideful ways that deeply irritated my colleague whose every actions radiated a simplicity of thought and action. He suddenly left, a chore had come up, it would take some time before he came back… I used that opportunity to get some fresh air. I walked silently past the front room with the ever noisy television set televising our channel 24/7. The technical crew needed the live output and hence its alive toxicity, something about television deeply disturbs me… there seems to be something about it that is manipulative and unhealthy . I left the room with a slight quickness to my step, I opened the front door and I saw the skies, caught between light clouds and heavy ones.. there was not much light… only the kind that comes when clouds cover the skies. The air outside felt light and free… it reminded me of my impulsive bike rides without any destinations mapped out, I knew that I did not have much time, I found a spot near the stairs by the neem trees.
My conversations with the Lord always started with a heartfelt sentiment, I told Him that I still wondered how He could pick up someone with a track record like mine and turn my life around, the leaves reacted to the trees as though in laughter… I felt Him there, it seemed like He was saying, child.. that happens to be one of my specialties.
‘ Why is the human portrait so flawed Lord…? Why can’t I control my actions and reactions to the most simplest of negative situations…? Why can’t I master my own emotions…? What else should I be doing…? Why do I feel helpless when it comes to preventing what seems to be so absolutely wrong in this world..? Why can’t I simply forgive and forget…? ‘
Everyday I come to your feet and meditate in your presence and I halt the tapes of my life. I ask you to erase the evil and corrupt portions, to help me forget the embarrassments, the failures, the deep moments of helplessness, hopelessness, despair, discouragement, frustrations, pressures, stress, anxiety, depression etc. I know that without you I would be at the mercy of such emotions.
As I sit here and look at the skies that you’ve created, I can’t help but wonder and admire the works of your hands… The moment my eyes look down and see the passive homes and the dull people with meaningless lives, my heart falters… The more I stare at the unimaginable beauty of the skies, the stars … I have a special fondness for clusters of scattered stars twinkling in the inky black of the night sky, I feel a spiritual bond with the stars that linger on as dark scrolls fade and the verses of night make haste to prepare the enormous canvas of sky for morning light. There is a deep mystery hidden in the workings of the universe that we seldom make time to wonder at and enjoy. The more the mystery, the more the awe that drives inward to the sheer abilities of the Almighty. Despite all of these magnificent wonders He seems more interested in our fate, with our lives and the way in which we treat others.
Yet , we humans forget Him and live as though He were dead.. We live as though the routine murders and rapes will be forgotten like our brothers and sisters begging for a day’s meal. Has not His word said that there is an appointed time where all men will be judged for the life that they’ve lived..? Should that not at the very least remind us to live a life of compassion and empathy..?
I don’t even know if some of the quotes that I have ready to greet me whenever I fall of the Christ centered grid mean what I assume them to mean, they seem lifeless and empty… my situation on the other hand seems new and fresh, and the sentiments and inspiration that would have helped me get through a former situation seem meaningless against the forces of the present situation.
The young man returned from his chore, I finished off my conversation with the Lord thanking Him for making time for me and for calming my fluid inner state. I don’t know if I would be sane if it were not for Him and His calming presence and power. I feel like I have an Optimus Prime in my corner, except in this case He is infinite times stronger and more greater than any heroic motif that a human mind can imagine. And the Lion of Judah is with me despite my falls, my dull and often times extraordinarily normal life… I felt my divided inward heart unite.. healed by the touch of the object of its love, it felt liberated temporarily from the sinister machines of thought, from the power of circumstances and from the inabilities that it occupies its weak mind with.
I continued on, telling him that his insights regarding our fellow comrade were correct. But I advised him to let it go, I narrated a few Bible incidents that pointed to the high road… I told him the powerful benefits of being the better man, and told him instead to lean more on Christ in order to survive such episodes. I reminded him of a few experiences from my life, that seemed to relax him. The thought that I too had crossed such difficult encounters somehow encouraged and helped him depart from the powers of accusation that we all often throw on others and tend to fall into, myself included. In closing he told me that yesterday I had talked in length about how I was unworthy of receiving the Lord’s love, to which He reminded me that the Lord was not interested in the 99 sheep, the 99 sheep, he said , were representative of righteous men, men in whom no wrong could be found and were safely in the fold of the Shepherd… instead the Shepherd set out to find the lost one, the one that had departed from the flock and attempted to find a way of its own… The Lord was more interested in that sheep , he remarked in what might have perhaps been the most inspirational thing that he has ever said to me. I did not let my surprise show, the Lord had just spoken to me through this young child wise beyond his years.. and it touched my heart. Indeed, the Lord set out to save that lost sheep that had gotten stuck by the side of a cliff overlooking death and had saved it and set it free under His watchful care.