Thursday, 31 December 2015

Reminiscing 2015

As the year 2015 comes to a close, I realise it has been on the most touching years of my experience.  Surely there have been more 'downs' than 'ups'.  Nonetheless, I'm contended with what has been laid before me.

It is a year that I've

  • seen the worst of Salesian religious life, not so much the scandal but the mediocrity which is perhaps the hidden and the beginning of the former.  
  • waged an almost losing battle against a sort of lethargy and complacency against the very people appointed to ensure a certain credible standards in our life and behaviour.
  • been frustrated at my own efforts of being a passive observer in spite of my vigorous attempts to be and do otherwise. 
  • also had a refreshing break at Punganur (which would not have been if not for all the above).  The warmth and the freshness of a school setting, in a rural area. 
  • had and still enjoying the enriching stay at Ramanthapur with the children from a different setting - each one a world apart.  
  • come close to several of whom were almost at the edge of my life. Met friends (though not in the most joyful of circumstances) after two decades or so. 
  • been supported by quite a few, understanding the pain and suffocation that I was going through within.  Their concern and guidance has indeed been a great source of strength.  
  • questioned much... my principles, my values, my methods, my priorities and in doing so learnt to see things around me in a much different light.  
  • missed the classroom. 
  • spent three months without the internet and enjoyed bliss! 
  • had very many moments of total blankness... a sort of dilemma unable to decide what next... but surprisingly been very calm and serene about and in and through it all. 
  • gossiped much, prayed less, written very little, hardly read ... but observed quite a lot.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

In a courtroom

For the first time I entered a courtroom today - a civil court in Sangareddy, Medak district. It was in connection with a land dispute we are embroiled in for the past ten years. I accompanied our accountant, who was to be cross-examined today as one of the witnesses who signed the gift deed (which is now being contested).

Anyway, I was impressed by the neat halls, verandahs and the whole structure of the building.  What impressed me most was the decorum in the courtroom.  Everyone who entered the courtroom, the lawyers in particular, would greet the judge with a namaste or a gentle bow.  That the judge hardly noticed these salutations is secondary.  It reminded me of our entry into the Churches and Chapels!  Then it struck me that this too is a place of respect and reverence.  Not necessarily for the person but for the role he is carrying out - that of ensuring justice for all.

The second thing I liked was the reverence all the lawyers had for the judge.  I'm sure not all would be pleased with him or approve of his decisions and that some - or most - would even curse him outside the courtroom... but in his presence they were all very very respectful and disciplined.  Even the senior lawyers much beyond the age of the judge himself, were of the same attitude.

Finally, the judge himself was very stern and sure of his role.  He reminded me of Fr Ivo who has the knack of asking one sharp question and leave us all bewildered.  Right at that moment we would not understand the relevance of that question but a calm and prepared reflection would help one see the centrality of that question to the matter in discussion.  This judge too had that unique ability.  He was stern but polite and most importantly swift.

Monday, 28 December 2015

No Jesus here!

Two days ago I let one of the 7th class boys accompany me to a Parish to deliver the cake pieces the Parish Priest had ordered from our bakery.  Upon reaching the place, the Mass was going on and the boy was surprised at the huge Church - in comparison with the small community Chapel we have.  So I asked him if he was interested in seeing the Church from inside.  He was eager. So once we handed over the cake, we walked into the Church. I asked him if he wanted to take a closer look at the sanctuary and the altar and he nodded with a smile. Since the Mass was already over, we took some time admiring the Church and as we came out, I noticed the adoration chapel attached to the Church.  I asked Gowtham, if he was interested. He was.  This was a small bare room, well lit with the Blessed Sacrament.  Once inside Gowtham smiled and said, "Our Chapel is bigger than this!"  Then he made a very solemn proclamation, with a very serious face, as if he had discovered something: "Anna (Brother), there is no Jesus here!" Well there certainly was no statue of Jesus but Gowtham did not know anything about the Blessed Sacrament and I did briefly tell him that Jesus was indeed present. He then seemed satisfied to know that it was still a Church, sans all the paraphernalia.

As we drove out of the place, I smiled to myself thinking, luckily the Parish priest did not hear Gowtham's comment or else he would have installed a statue of Jesus - and a couple of others - in that Chapel too!  

Why only me?

I had a similar experience as this with one of the smaller fellows who is just getting used to sitting in a class for a while (even if that "a while" is less than 30 mins) ...
Also a further insight, we never think as adults we learn something new or different everyday too. As children this is considered a 'must' but as adults we feel we have learnt enough!  Perhaps life would be as entertaining it is for kids, if we as adults too keep learning things rather than behave as 'know-all wisecracks'!

Band-bajaa

I volunteered to drop a visiting priest at an ordination ceremony this morning.  Just as I dropped him at the venue, in walked the Archbishop, the Provincial and the ordinanadee.  All of them preceded by the band and each of them garlanded.  

The first thing that came to my 'pictoral' mind when I viewed that scene was that of devotees taking a sacrificial lamb for slaughter!
The whole scene of the band and procession and photographers and everyone paving the way for the "dignitaries" was so distasteful and nauseating that I speedily departed from the venue.  

I've thrived without any of these things so far and I hope no one will think of such fanfare for my funeral either. 

Growing in responsibility

Dealing with the bakery and the cakes production and sale, I realized that it was much better letting K------ (the baker and instructor) to handle the major responsibility.  I let him take up the orders, decide the time and work schedule with the boys, coordinate (along with J-----, the driver) the delivery mode and timing, issue the bills and even collect the money.  I could really see that he was enthused about this process.  His sense of responsibility was good.  Someone warned me that he could swindle something or some amount.  But in the light of the system he is following and keeping me informed there was hardly any space for any malpractice.  Even if he did engage himself in something, what's the big harm? In comparison to the net gain of him growing in responsibility and attachment to the task, the institution, and the boys, what he helps himself to is peanuts!  I only kept providing him with suggestions and occasional help in planning and coordinating.  I always ensured that he gets his due praise and credit.  So far has worked great. 

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Digital story of the Nativity

Couldn't help but insert this digital narration of the nativity... remember it very vividly from over the years, since I first saw it on youtube.

Baking Christmas

Now that Christmas is over, so is the busy involvement in the bakery.  For the first time, except for the fact that we were baking cakes for Christmas, there was anything "Christmas" in all that I was involved in.  It has been over a week since I attended Mass, leave alone participate in the morning or evening prayer and sit for my meditation.  It was been a crazy running around and trying to coordinate the baking, securing orders, distribution and setting up of stalls and what not.

At times my conscience pricked me when I crossed the chapel to reach my room - going to my room itself was a rare occurrence! So I'd step in to wish Him and say a brief 'hello'.  So now as I sit back and review my Christmas this year, there is hardly anything related to my previous living of this solemnity.  This is the first time I've been involved in something so much that I've totally lost track of the usual mode of celebrating Christmas.

Did I miss prayer?  Did I miss Him?  Did I feel His presence?  Well I may not have been a good religious, in that pietistic sense but somehow I feel, I have grown in relationship... even with Him. My understanding of my boys has matured (at least a bit) and so has my rapport with the staff and other confreres.  Not that all is rosy and perfect... far from it.  But my relationship is more genuine and open.

So much for a baking Christmas!

Religion and Business

Sitting for the vigil Mass and seeing the youth group burdened by the weight of the collection boxes, it struck me that the Church was getting a collection for free.  Perhaps much more than what my boys and I would be making after slogging it out for 10 days round the clock in the bakery. I'm sure the Christmas collection of the Parish would easily be more than the profit we make in the sale of cakes from here.

Religion is indeed a profitable business!

Christmas plane

Though I did not read or hear much about Christmas this year, the one thing that caught my attention was the analogy given by someone to the boys a couple of days ago.  He narrated a story of a father and son spending time on their rooftop and when a plane passed over their head, the boy asked the father, "How do we go up there in the sky to board the plane?"  The father replied, "Son, we need not go up there, the plane itself comes down and we can then board the plane."

Well, that's what Christmas commemorates: God coming down to help us show the way.

"Free" craze

During the Christmas vigil Mass, I watched a very weird and nauseating scene in a rather well-to-do Parish and that too involving well-dressed educated people... all scrambling for the freely distributed piece of cake! I've seen beggars and those deprived of food do that, but to watch this "elite" group do it was quite irritating and beyond my comprehension.  I guess it is a certain craze for "free" goods!  

Thursday, 17 December 2015

He went about doing good...

This evening as I sat alone for evening prayer, it occurred to me how lucky Jesus was!  He was totally free of all administration, projects, accounts, purchases, documentation, maintenance works, paying salaries, staying in touch with the donors, settling staff squabbles (this one I think he too had a fair share - the apostles ensured that!), circulating data and names, ...

He went about doing good!  

I was wondering when we would reach that level of efficiency in pastoral ministry... doing good, without breaking one's head about how to go about doing good!

The mobile crib

This Christmas baby Jesus will have to find a place other than the manger.  The one at the Castilino family is no more safe!

I was told this morning that the crib at home is already set up. Courtesy: the insistence of my nephew.

But this crib is mobile and is all the while in motion.  Courtesy: my niece!

Either she is at the crib, talking to the cattle, et al. or she is taking the sheep out to the garden, the camel to water and the donkeys, to God alone knows where!  Sometimes the bell around the ox's neck is passed onto to St Joseph!  At times she is feeding the members in the crib with the bowl and spoon, just as she is fed by the elders at home. Mummy says she has already made a couple of rounds of the house finding the "lost" kings, "grazing" sheep, "wandering" donkeys...

I wonder where would baby Jesus end up!

Fr Thathi, the Fifth Provincial of Hyderabad!

On December 16, 2015 Fr Angel Fernandez, our Rector Major, announced Fr Thathireddy Vijaya Bhaskar as the Provincial elect of the Salesian Province of Hyderabad (INH). He succeeds Fr Raminedi Balaraju as the fifth Provincial of Hyderabad. As we rejoice at this announcement we gladly welcome him back to the Province (from the Generalate) and sincerely thank Fr Balaraju for his yeomen services to the Province.

Fr Thathi as he is fondly called in the Province, will certainly draw heavily from his experience as the Vice Provincial of Hyderabad for the past 5 years till he was called to the Generalate. He is all of 41 years (being born on October 10, 1974) but much loved and admired by the confreres and all those who have been in touch with him, ever since his initial formation.

The Province stands to gain from his multi-talented personality who is able to put his hand to anything and produce quality results. Besides being a qualified formator (skilled and trained in Philosophy) he also has completed his Ph.D. from UPS, Rome. Passionate about social communication, he recently directed a movie on Don Bosco titled 'The Journey'. He has also been the editor of the Province newsletter 'Kaburlu', and the delegate for Social communication for two terms . His love for the poor has found concrete expression in his dedicated work with and for the street children of Visakhapatnam, while being fully involved in the Philosophate at St John's Regional Seminary, Kondadaba.

His organisational and relational skills were made visible especially during his stint as the vice-provincial. After animating the 8th Provincial Chapter he was also elected as the Province Delegate to the 27th General Chapter. Besides being blessed with qualities of the head, he also has a large heart and a sane balancing ability of both. These externally visible features rest strong and rise deep from his inner convictions and principles of Salesian Religious life. Counting on all these rich qualities he was called to the Generalate in August 2015 to be part of the Youth Pastoral Team. The Province is indeed blessed to have him back as its chief animator.

Fr Thathi hails from Reddypalem, in Mahboobnagar district of Telangana and is the eldest in the family of three children. He lost his father a year ago and is much doted on by his beloved mother, Mrs Maria Rani. He joined the Salesian aspirantate at Gunadala, Vijayawada as an eighth standard boy and went on to make his first profession in the freshly bifurcated Province of Hyderabad (from Bangalore) on May 24, 1993. After his theological studies at Kristu Jyoti College, Bangalore he was ordained a Priest on January 3, 2003.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Deliberations...

This afternoon, we sat to do the evaluation of our clerics in the community - a formality aimed at their growth, at the community level.  As we started I was surprised to see the same evaluation format which was discarded last year, in favour of the one that I had proposed to the Province.  During my last days in Karunapuram I had proposed reviving an old format (with some modifications) and also supported my opinion with proofs and valid documents.  So convinced were all those formators of the Province that they included this as the first and most important point from the formation team to the Province leaders meet.  I also remember being invited to speak to the Rectors of the Province about this point - something I declined stating that it was the responsibility of the one incharge of formation.  I had made available the new format, the procedural change I personally envisioned and the necessary reasons for making this shift.

Today my Rector recalled that it was all spoken of during the meeting... but why then were we still using the old version?  No decision was taken!! There was half a day of discussion, an agreement of most of the members attending the meeting but finally no one said or deliberated anything. So the old remains!  Great!

Foreseeing the past

Attended Anand's memorial Mass this morning.  It was rather sober and smooth, just like his funeral.  This time, I did not go home.  Wanted to but had to drive home those who came with me to the Church, but did not want to go to his house.

During the homily to distract myself I was wondering what would people be saying at my funeral about me. Would it be like this priest blabbering about some eternal life and resurrection and all that stuff without any clue of what Anand went through in his life or what he believed in.  (Most of the stuff, the priest was saying, I'm sure he himself is not believing!).  However much to my dismay, and surprisingly he concluded the sermon soon - meaning really soon!  And so did my exercise of foreseeing my own funeral oration.  

Fare/Get well

The other day we arranged a small farewell to one of our volunteers from Accenture, who was very much involved in the education of the school going boys for the past two and half years.  He coordinated a whole team of willing colleagues to tutor our boys in preparation for their exams for the time he was here in Hyderabad. On the eve of his departure to Chennai, we organized a small farewell gathering with the boys.

The boys knew well in advance that he, Pradeep Anthony was leaving and they found their own ways of expressing their gratitude to him.  Some gave him gifts (chocolates or drawings or something edible they bought for him). Some organized as a class and gave him some presents.  One particular class also got him a greeting card: "Get well soon!"

Knowing well our boys he took it all in his stride and saw the sentiments rather than the words. So did we.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Visitors to DBNJ

Yesterday and today we had a string of visitors and sponsors... of various things and sorts.  Some sponsoring food, some cash, some clothes, some sweets, some offered books, some stationery and some basically to enquire about the possible modes of involvement.  It is rather taxing to meet them all and worse still is the amount of time that is consumed in speaking and interacting with these guests. While on the one hand, it is a good sign that people would like to get involved in the lives of these children in their own ways.  However, on the other hand, some do it out of pity.  That's quite pitiful!  Such 'pity' acts I always discourage and brush away.  Because that truly belittles the children, of which I do not approve.  I'd like to give the child an integrity and dignity which it is due... not some pity.  I aim to help children grow with pride and honour, able to ride upon their own confidence and not on someone else's leftovers.

One thing that sponsors first observe among our children is the spontaneity and their joy at being here.  No long faces or sad looks.  They are at home with the staff, with us Fathers and Brothers, and among themselves too.  They need not act before guests and put up a facade, like in some other childrens' homes.  They are the same as everyday, every other time.

(the temptation to take snaps of these guests always tugs at my hands but I resist... would like to keep the focus on the children) 

Courage or Cowardice

The suicide of my batch mate set off a weird conversation with another friend yesterday night.  When the latter heard that the guy had committed suicide, he exclaimed, "What a courageous guy!" Truly I was surprised.  I asked him what is courageous about committing suicide?  His angle was that normal people cannot dare touch their own lives.  It really takes a lot of grit and courage to commit suicide.

Perhaps.  But I believe that only the act of dying can be called 'courageous'. But everything else is actually a sign of cowardice!  If someone is committing suicide and would be labelled courageous, then he or she should adopt a really gruesome means of ending one's life.  That I doubt will ever happen.  However, basically suicidal tendencies are a sign of ailment and they need help.  Unfortunately by the time the diagnosis is done, life is done away with!

Maybe all the unfortunate who reach the decision of committing suicide, should join the army and go to the frontlines or enroll themselves in some daredevil sports where risk of life is very high.  At least they'll die gloriously - if at all there is any glory in taking one's own life! Anyway all these are thoughts and talks of those who are too busy living... God alone knows what's really going on in the mind and life of the one who resorts to such 'deadly' acts.

Another buried!

Today had the hard task of burying another of my novitiate batchmate and what made it worse, was the fact that he too decided to out the same way as did the previous one: suicide!  This guy was not a typically outgoing or adventurous type. He always was and continued to be a loner, seeking comfort only among a few like-minded introverts.  For them they found the whole world and everything about it, faulty.  However, he had a rather heavy load of downs - while the possibilities were mostly ups! His marriage broke up a couple of years ago. His father passed away 11 months ago. To make matters worse, he seemed to have been "inspired" by our other batchmate who decided to take his own life, not even a month ago.

Ultimately, hopefully his agony (real or imaginary) is no more now.  That's the only consolation. 

Friday, 11 December 2015

Missing the Obvious

While searching for a particular anecdote I came across this particular one from Tony De Mello's The Song of the Bird (could not but vibe with it, having been in similar situations in my class room, on several occasions)...

Nasruddin earned his living selling eggs. Someone came to his shop one day and said, “Guess what I have in my hand.”

“Give me a clue,” said Nasruddin.

“I shall give you several: It has the shape of an egg, the size of an egg. If looks like on egg, tastes like an egg and smells like an egg. Inside it is yellow and white. It is liquid before it is cooked, becomes thick when heated. It was, moreover laid by a hen...”

“Aha! I know!” said Nasruddin. “It is some kind of cake!”

The expert misses the obvious! The Chief Priest misses the Messiah!

Burning with a hunger

I spent the morning at our novitiate house interacting with the 8 novices of our Province.  It was good.  After long, engaging myself in a discussion and that too discussing matters concerning vocation and religious life... it felt good.  Moreover it was good to be questioned about some of the things I said or what they had heard of religious, or priestly life.  Though most of it was the usual set of questions that I am asked: Difference between Brs and Priests? Response of my parents to my decision to be a Br?  Formation course of both?  My experience as a Br among Priests?

However, there was something that I emphasised most during the interaction with them: A diminishing HUNGER or PASSION for anything in life.  That they seemed to have grasped and acknowledged too.  I did not speak of passion for Christ or God, at all but rather insisted on having a passion for atleast something in life.  Unless there is that hunger we live a very complacent life ... and modern notion of religious life, further strengthens that lethargy and mediocrity, I added.

Charity - The flex-photo mode

A growing sickness among Priests and religious, even among Salesians: Photos with the flex in the background while doing some good or charity!  What a disgrace!  It looks so awful and nauseating.  Posing for photos while distributing aid to the homeless or gifts to children on the occasion of a feast.  If Jesus were to be present for such occasions, I'm sure he'd have some harsh words for such 'flex-photo' celebrities!

One argument that I've heard from those involved in such antics is that the 'donor agents' want some proof.  Well, then send it only to those donor agencies. Why publish on every website and every social media available?  Why brag about it for  about a hundred and one times?  Do it, forget it and get on.  Why harp on it for ages to come?

Good to keep in mind Jesus' saying: While doing charity, let your left hand not know what your right hand is doing.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Everyone is called to be a Saint


Finding peace

There are times when I close myself in my room, seeking solitude and rest.  At times it helps, at times it only aggravates my disturbed mind.  And the other day as I was changing the page on the calendar, I read this quote (by Virginia Woolf) at the bottom of the page:
You cannot find peace by avoiding life.
I guess she is right. Being an ostrich does not help, certainly not the ostrich itself! But I guess one does need moments of silence and being all by oneself to make some  sense of what is going on around me. However, it is also a matter of prudence, when to withdraw and when to charge headlong!

Christmas vs Holy Mass

Fr TD's pet theme this season is 'Christmas mischief'.  Well he certainly has a point to state and in our conscious efforts to disprove him, we only end up confirming what he states.  His point is this: that Christmas is basically a mischief, a bluff, to distract people from the real spirit of the celebration. While it is only a commemoration, a remembering of an event that happened centuries ago, we tend to make it a fact today. We skip the reason for God's incarnation and get fixated on the petty reality of the manger, the crib, the birth, the celebration.

So I asked myself: Isn't the daily Mass of greater and richer meaning than Christmas?  While Christmas is merely a remembrance, a commemoration of His birth, the Mass is a reliving, a reincarnation, in flesh and blood, in reality, here and now. So to not see the depth of the Holy Mass but to prepare for Christmas is a sort of blind football match we all enjoy - playing and 'watching'.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Participation

Fr TD John brought to my attention, an interesting news item in today's The Hindu.  I could not get the printed copy in the house and so looked it up online.  The title is 'Woman speakers missing here!' The piece laments the absence of women in  a conference discussing women in Islam!
The stage was set and the seminar’s topic was the ‘Role of Muslim Women in the Changing World on national-level’. And the venue was the Urdu Ghar, which is in the heart of the old city at Moghalpura. It might sound empowering, but it lacked something very important: women speakers. How a seminar can be held on the role of women without actually having even one woman to speak on the issue itself was perhaps not lost on the speakers, who participated in the Urdu and Persian seminar here on Tuesday.
While we may find this amusing and even ridiculous, I find it strange when we practice it often and with no second thoughts, especially in dealing with children and young people.  We, grown ups (formators, educators, teachers, staff members) decide for the children what is best for them.  We somehow are convinced that we know best. Perhaps! But perhaps not the best!  Involving the child and the youth makes a huge difference for them.  They grow, become more involved, take up responsibility and make a difference - so do we!  Mistakes and even blunders may happen... but the final or results later in life are worth those mistakes.

Priesthood and Service

I'm right now engaged in an interesting discussion or sharing of ideas with someone about Brotherhood and Priesthood.  It is more of a casual conversation. I then extended some bit of it to someone with similar ideas and he came up with this suggestion:
Abolish the laity! Priests will automatically be in the right place!
Basically it is about position, authority and posts.  In the words of this person...
Religious life has caught on to the evils connected with hierarchical priesthood. Hierarchy and the Gospels cannot go together. Privileges are part of hierarchy. The deacons were asked to help the apostles, to help in the service. This did not mean that the apostles stopped being servants and become masters!!!!! 
What an Irony that now all the laity are required to fulfil the role of reminding the priests of the secular reality! The priests can then live in a different world – of no responsibility and all the privileges! Double whammy! Neither service, nor work! Just enjoy power and pelf! Just today ------ told me, “I always thought priests were close to God!”
Being part of a larger discussion, this piece above may be misleading.  However, the point is that religious life and priesthood need to get back to Jesus' basic style of living.  The more institutionalized it gets, the more it will move away from the Kingdom.

The Braying Donkey

The other day Br John gave a nice goodnight.

There was a washerman and he had a donkey and a dog. Since the donkey was most useful for him to transport clothes he loved the donkey more than the dog.  Sensing this the dog was waiting for an opportunity to give back to his master.  One night thieves entered the house and the dog purposely decided not to bark.  The donkey noticed this and was getting impatient: Why isn't the dog barking?  The dog decided it was his time to get back at his master and stayed quiet.  The donkey unable to bear this tragedy began to bray.  The master at first was irritated. He shouted from inside for the donkey to be quiet.  The donkey held its peace for some more time, thinking that the dog would take the cue and start barking.  When nothing of that sort happened it started to bray again to alert the master.  The master, shouted out from inside for the donkey to stay quiet.  The third time this happened, the master came out and bashed up the donkey for disturbing his peaceful sleep.

Moral: Do your own duty.  Don't try to do someone else duty leaving your work undone!  What you are supposed to do, do.
Well, one can always argue from the donkey's perspective: commitment, loyalty, sacrifice (if need be), charity, crosses for those who do good... et al.  So which one is correct then?  Swadharma or service of others? 

Catechism undone

There are three boys among our children getting ready to receive First Holy Communion.  They regularly attend the catechism classes and are actively involved in the Sunday Parish too.  However, in comparison to the other boys, one of them is a real 'rascal' - not so much in the sense of mischief but in the sense of devotion and relation.  Something I have observed among most of our boys is that the prayer before meals is said with utmost devotion and reverence.  Looking at them pray before meals is a sight to behold and I should say, none of them waste food either.  Of course, some are finicky about some types of meals, most of them do not make any fuss.  But one of the Catholic boys is most often distracted during this prayer.  While everyone is with eyes closed and palms joined, this guy is fiddling with his keychain or the zip of his pullover or meddling with his neighbour's shirt.  Wonder where does all his catechism lessons goes into?  

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Cyclic activity

Life here at Ramanthapur is basically a 'one-day-at-a-time' affair!  Most often by the end of the day, the list that you began to work on, in the morning is no where done... not even the first thing on the list is ticked off!  Why is that so?

Well, that's because by the time I started the first task, there is someone or something that has come up.  Attending to that latter task you encounter something else along the way, needing immediate attention.  By the time that is almost done, something else goes wrong somewhere or there is some emergency, if not in physical vicinity, at least on the phone!  That's how it all begins ... and never ends!

So by the end of the day, when I 'try' to review my day, I still have the list, intact!!  And them am too tired to see what actually did I complete!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Waiting...

We commence the season of Advent today.  While in the Mass, a thought came across my mind.  Whom do we usually wait for?  Someone we love or someone we have some work with. We usually don't look forward to someone with whom we have no relationship or business.  If someone does arrive, we care two hoots about him or her.

Speaks tons of our relationship with Jesus.  The Church offers us a good opportunity to 'get ready' for the Saviour.  But for one who is already deeply in love with Him, there is no 'waiting'.  Even if there is, it is something spontaneous and natural.  Not forced or another thing to be done.

So I'm asking myself:  How eager is my longing for His 'coming'?  Am I waiting at all?  Does He even feature in my thoughts and expectations - at least at random, in flashes?

Come Lord Jesus, Come!

Cell phone distance

The day before yesterday I went to the Secunderabad railway station to meet a couple of my companions from Chennai who had come to the city for a meeting and were returning back.  Since they could not make it to my place, we had agreed to meet in the station itself - none of us wanted to risk the Hyderabad traffic.

Having located them it suddenly occurred to me what if we were in the pre-mobile era?  How on earth did people locate someone in a place like a railway station someone whom they wanted to meet?  While chatting about this with my companions, one of them said, "Back then they used common sense!  And now we only use the mobile!"  True indeed!

In the name of advanced technology, we only have learnt the method of doing last minute work.  Planning much ahead and working towards something is not considered essential about all aspects of life.  Why anticipate something that can be done within a matter of few minutes.  So what then do you do with the "saved" time?

Earlier, when it was still the era of writing postal letters to dear ones announcing ones arrival by train, things were smooth, almost. Now even with the latest technology, there is more chaos and confusion!

Save face

A good thought to ponder and practice:
Save face - keep the lower part of it shut! 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

If not in life...

Came back this evening from the funeral of Fr Pasala Jojappa, a novitiate batchmate of mine, who later joined the diocese of Nalgonda. He died under mysterious circumstances and things are too shady even for one to speculate.  However, the good that happened today, at least for me, was that I got to meet my Gunadala aspirantate and novitiate batchmates.  Most of them I am meeting after 20 to 23 years!  It was great to meet them.

Of the batch of 14 novices, way back in 1995, five of us are Salesians (4 Priests and me), one already in heaven, one laid to rest today and the rest are all married and settled down in life. Today Anil, Shantha, Kasu and William were absent.  The rest of us were all there: Anand, Kishore, Rayappa, Rajkumar and Thomas.

We stayed back after the funeral just to stand around and recall our days in Gunadala and Manoharabad.  We still remembered our nicknames and pet names.  Finally before leaving the village, we once again called on the family.  Most of us were not in touch with the family but all the same they invited us inside the house when we informed that we were a batch once upon a time.  We did spend some quality time with the mother, sister and a relative (a Priest).  Some intimate details about his death and the circumstances around the same too were shared in this close-knit gathering.

If not in life, his death brought us together.

RIP: Pasala

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Sleep

Describes my present state pretty well...

Priests are not mushrooms

Pope Francis spoke of Priesthood and formation on Nov. 20, 2015 and here's what I liked most:
Priests also have a history, they are not 'mushrooms' which sprout up suddenly in the cathedral on the day of their ordination. 
It is important for formators and priests themselves to remember this and to know how to take into account this personal history along the path of formation … this means that one cannot become a priest, believing that one has been formed in a laboratory, no; he starts in the family with the 'handing on' of the faith and with all the experiences of the family. 
He added that each vocation is personalized,
because it is the concrete person who is called to discipleship and the priesthood.
A good priest, therefore, is first of all a man with his own humanity, who knows his own history, with its riches and its wounds, who has learned to make peace with this, achieving the fundamental serenity proper to one of the Lord's disciples. Human formation is therefore a necessity for priests, so that they learn not to be dominated by their limits, but rather to put their talents to use.

The good shoes

One of the priests to whom I was talking a couple of days ago was speaking about two staff members who were trying to become the right hand man of another confrere in a particular community.  So he stated it thus:
Both of them want to come close to him.  Both of them want to get into his good shoes
You see, that's what happens when you don't read the books right!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Fighting... movie style

One interesting phenomena I noticed among our boys... not only now, but even many years ago too.  Whenever words heat up and turn into blows, it is always a movie style fight.  The words and sentences uttered are all with the cinematic effect and so are the movements.  Now that's the first part.

The second part is the most interesting:  none of the other boys intervene!  They all merely stand by and watch.  Luckily they do not cheer on, but neither do they do anything to intervene and separate them.  All watch in deadly silence.  I guess that passivity too is a cinematic influence!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Air pack

One thing that I really did not see today, during the sports day of the neighbouring school, was children munching chips.  Usually, children when they have the liberty - and the money - go first for all that kurkure and chips packets.  Perhaps today there was no one selling them in the vicinity. However, I find it surprising that kids - and grown ups too - prefer the tight packed chips to something more filling and healthy, say a biscuit packet or some corn.  That too for the price you pay, there is more air than chips in some of these packets.

With children

Some old students and confreres often ask me how is my stay in Ramanthapur with the children from the street - honestly speaking, not all here are from the street!  Anyway, I sincerely tell them that I'm really enjoying my stay and work with the children.  Both here and in Punganur, working with children has certainly brought in a different perspective for myself.  Something I'd have really missed out had I continued in Karunapuram.  As of now, I do acknowledge that I have no great love for Karunapuram, but I certainly am doing a lot of introspection and self-reflection.

Children truly mirror a lot back to you... so no dodging!

Conscientizing the conscience

Some of our boys here are very good at playing with people.  They tell one thing in the school to the teacher, another to the headmaster and something all together different to the Brother in-charge.  And most often, the truth is in none of these presentations!  That's a real talent for some.

I guess we do the same with our inner selves too...

Learning...

Coming from Karunapuram, and with all the heavy baggage that I still feel within me, my stay at Ramanthapur - with the boys, to be specific - is quite revealing.  While most of the Brothers found it very hard to make choices of their own, leave alone sensible, prudent and counter-cultural choices, quite a few of the boys here, in their own way take very value based stances.  On the one hand we have young men, who have consciously opted for a particular way of life, but fail to make corresponding choices.  On the other hand, we have children and youngsters who have had no prior "formation" or opportunities as much as the Brothers and yet making not only sensible decisions but value-based judgements.

Am yet to grasp how and why this happens... this disparity?  Still observing the boys here to learn what makes them far better than most of the Brothers!  

Water blues and kids

Just outside my office window is the drinking water tap for the boys.  Since there is the neighbouring school conducting their sports day in our ground, I closed up the tap from inside, having told my boys to go into the staff dining hall and drink. (I had told the school to get their own drinking water, since I would not be able to provide the same for all their children and their guests too - and that they had done).  It was all fine, till I saw some of the outside students and guests too going into the staff dining hall.  For what?  For water!  And who was directing them?  My own boys!  

Learning lessons teaching

Yesterday morning during the technical school assembly, I posed a challenge for the day: help atleast one or two of your companions, anonymously.  Since I concluded the talk with just that one point, some of them were surprised and openly stated: "That's all??"  I understood the statement was about the brevity of my talk and not the content of it.

However, at the end of the day, after night prayers I asked the same two or three guys who make that remark during the morning assembly, if they remembered the challenge that I had posed to them.  All of them not only remembered it but also proudly stated that they had helped not one but three of their companions!

Now, I was shocked and surprised!  I really was convinced that none of them even remembered the challenge, leave alone tried it.  Though I did try it myself, I managed to help only one individual.  That was a lesson for me! 

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Insights from the Parable of the Vine

This morning we had a reflection and sharing on the parable of the vine from the gospel of John.
In the whole episode, something which is evident is that all along the vine is in touch with the garden and the gardener. Whether the branch is yielding or not; whether dead (burnt in the garden) or alive (with the vine). The gardener is also in touch with the vine... pruning, cutting, watering, manuring. Good lesson for all: Everyone is good and in the care of the Father... depending on our response to the care of the Father, is the treatment of the Son (pruning, cutting, harvesting...)

Abide in me... 
It is a natural human temptation – and an increasingly growing tendency among religious – to 'launch out', jump to action, engage oneself in activities. Because these are visible and tangible. These bring glory and name, among people and in the society. However the invitation is to 'abide in me'. Now that's difficult and a very risky affair. Risky because it involves a gruelling transformation. No escape. No dodging. No shortcuts. It turns you inside out and not at all comforting! Human as we are, we easily give in to the temptation rather than strive for transformation.

(In the light of the Chapter, a small distraction: We have ample opportunities to make this inner shift and we do go through them all – in fact, insist on fulfilling them all at the individual level, community level, province level. However without the real will)

Those branches which yield he prunes with care 
It is the tree which bears fruits that gets stoned. A sign of suffering and difficulty is that one is doing something worthwhile and different. If one were not to do anything, nothing is going to happen.

He cuts those branches which do not yield...
It is not enough just to be with Him but one needs to be productive too. Productivity is not necessarily an automatic outcome of being with the vine.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Sheep Stealing

I had heard of this phrase some long time ago but not of late. I thought this language – and the concept itself – was extinct... till I heard it yesterday in the Provincial's report of the Province.

'Sheep Stealing'???   Well... !

It was used in the observations for the Evangelisation commission, in the context of 'other denominations' and therefore 'sheep stealing'.

This concept is only possible when we deem Christians and Catholics - and people, in general - as mere dumb sheep with no brains or balls to make sensible decisions for their own faith and life. Secondly, it reeks of a very very narrow attitude of the Church and the Kingdom.

Sheep??

Lay Collaboration

Last evening listening to the sharing of a couple of men who were invited as observers - who were also Salesian co-operators - I felt this strong message coming across. Amidst staff and collaborators, our Salesian presence is actually the life-giving presence.  Now I don't mean it positively!  It is actually a very detrimental and damaging presence and involvement.  The lay collaborators exist and function only at the push of the Salesians.

While on the one hand we have the famous Salesian quote that the Salesian community is the nucleus of the apostolate, but that does not mean that we should make the lay people or those involved with us purely dependent and alive only and only because of the Salesians...

... never helped to be independent and grow.... always dependent... we dominate... make them subservient...

...and everyone's happy!  That's the tragedy!

Mysticism - interpreted

Talking of mysticism and giving his interpretation/understanding of the same, Fr KM Sebastian, who was also celebrating his b'day, spoke of it as a feeling of being lost in the Lord.  He cited children lost in their petty games, people lost in watching movies in a theatre, couples lost in gazing at one another...

He spoke of an actress who was once asked what sort of a man would she want for a husband.  And she is to have replied,
I do not want a man to live with, but a man without whom I cannot live.  
Now's that's what we call being lost and madly in love.  

Success indicators

Our success indicators are all along the lines of finance and status. But none of us would state – leave alone acknowledge – this truth. We would die and kill to retain the tag of 'poor and abandoned'. The tag is merely to milk donors and benefactors... not for our own living style nor as a yardstick for policy-making.

Why always tie-up ministry with finance? I understand that finance is required for ministry, but not compulsory. We have somehow grown with the idea that if we do not have money, that if we do not have benefactors, that if there are no projects, nothing worthwhile can be done. I wonder how much money Jesus had when he went about doing good? I wonder when, where and how Jesus would have carried out his ministry if he too were to have been dependent on finances as we are.

Sick of the ongoing discussions, I started preparing a 'word cloud' of the morning discussions - that's when I was not reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer:
property, new capital, cbse, expand, big campus, land, sustainability, use, money, earning, change according to the times, professional centres, facilities, finance, strength, funds, model,

Work and Play

Tom Sawyer's definition of work and play:
Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. 
Here's an extended explanation:
There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-drive horse passenger coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign. 
My personal take:
Work, if involving children, is play... of course, for the children; but for the adults it is double-work! At my parents' home, Mummy 'works' only after my niece and nephew have gone to bed. As long as they are around, they are adamant to 'help' and eager to do the work, but in the end it is such a fiasco that Mummy has to spend more time cleaning and redoing. Same here at Navajeevan home with the boys. Easier, faster and better if I do the work myself than ask the boys to do or help me.

But...

Monday, 9 November 2015

Playing poverty

We commenced our Provincial Chapter this morning with a recollection preached by Fr Mallavarapu Sundar, a diocesan priest of the archdiocese of Hyderabad.  I had met him a couple of times when here in the Provincial house as the Secretary.  I remembered him well... wasn't sure if he would.  However was pleasantly surprised to hear him call me by name and recall the few times we met and interacted six years ago!

Anyway, during his reflection in the morning he was sharing his experience of having to hear a friend priest from the United States, who did not have much of an appreciation for our Pope Francis. He said, (quoting his friend) that Francis was "being poor and playing poverty."

Contesting this accusation, Fr Sundar stressed that Pope Francis is truly genuine in his life and words and is truly doing a great job.  It is basically we priests and religious who deserve the title of 'playing poverty'.  We really do not practice it but are eloquent speakers and proclaimers of the same... mere verbally and that too only from the pulpit.  Neither are we poor at words there at the pulpit!

As I sat reflecting on those words, I realised the Pope being really poor need not at all play poverty.  Only when one is not genuine or truthful about being poor does one have to put up a whole facade and dramatise poverty.  Of course, the final straw: poverty, if it does not help me come close to Christ and His people is as good as riches or anything else.  Poverty (and for that matter every other evangelical counsel) is only a means to live and come closer to Jesus.  By itself, poverty is good but not necessarily a virtue!

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Nice cartoon

Couldn't help laughing at this cartoon... very imaginative and creative representation.

Mockery of communion

I've always had an allergy for people's craze for food.  By now I've realized that very many in south India have this notion that serving food on a special occasion is one of the best means of doing good.  I totally disagree!  When there is the parish feast, everyone is served a meal... lavish arrangements are made and all and sundry are fed that one day.  Huge amounts are spent for this alone.  What's surprising is that very many who can comfortably afford and have a great meal at home, do not mind eating on this particular occasion.  Mind you, it isn't about eating like a 'family' or anything.  There is only 'eating'!!  I fear we have reached a point where we invite people to a celebration, especially parish feasts, and people come not for the communion (and I do mean the Holy Eucharistic communion alone), but merely for the food after the Mass.  And how does this event unfold?  Everyone rushes for food, as though they have been starving for ages (most fear coming later or giving preference for others would mean running the risk of not getting food later); Children are sent at 'courier boys' to fetch as much as can be carried home (great way of teaching children good manners!);  seating is always as per "my" people, none try to mingle with everyone or those from other families or strangers;  there is nothing of sharing or sacrificing, each one is up to grab as much as possible and woe to the Parish Priest and those serving food, if food runs short (that's announced and proclaimed for ages as the worst feast ever... naturally, every Parish Priest would like to 'outdo' his predecessors by providing more and 'better' food);  finally, the whole place is so littered with plates, paper/plastic cups and food (yeah, food!) that it would put Genghis Khan (and his battlefield) to shame.

High time the clergy first gets its priorities right and then helps everyone in the Parish realize this mediocrity of reducing a feast to a eating gala.  

Learning to be a Parent

Yesterday I learnt a good lesson, in a not so good way!  One of the senior boys approached me asking for a pair of slippers, stating that the one he has is not good. I had a look at them and told him that he could very well use it for a month or so, if he would merely put a stitch or two on them.  He wasn't convinced.  He wanted a new pair by all means (about a dozen of the other boys had been given just the day before). Finally unable to convince him that I was not keen on purchasing a new pair when the existing pair could be mended, I told him that I'd do the necessary repair for him.  And I said that I'd repair it and use it myself.  He coolly said, "OK!" With that he followed me to my room and when I gave him my pair of slippers, he tried them on, handed me his pair and left!

I was quite disturbed by what happened. And I asked myself why was I so perturbed?  I realized I had told him that I'd exchange the pair of slippers merely to convince him to use the same, not really 'exchange'.  His 'matter of fact' attitude in walking away with my footwear was quite irritating.  What really calmed my conscience and mind, was this lesson: If they really are MY boys, why would I think twice to give them the best and adjust with the rest myself?  Any parent would do that: give the children the best, no matter if they themselves have to totally forgo the same. 

Generosity of Yahweh

The first reading of the day is about Elijah assuring the widow that she will have food and oil enough to last, if she would first serve him a morsel (the only food left) before she and her son has it.  It is interesting to note the condition that Yahweh (through Elijah) puts for his generous offer of providing food in time of drought and famine.
The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.  
The "offer" is not for eternity, but till the time, the required resources are available for them to make their own food.  God does not make us mere receptacles of His gifts but provides us with resources to make our own 'daily bread'.  And in times when we do not have these resources at hand, He is willing to step in and provide the required goods, but again, not for ever, till the resources are available.

Pointing fingers at others

Last night I was at ISB, Gachibowli for a diwali sale with products made at our Bhoiguda centre.  Joshua our driver was ill and I had to take the wheel.  It was an evening sale (6 to 11 pm).  There were about 22 stalls in a small place in the open and only a couple of them put up by some NGOs like us.  Most were eateries and ours was perhaps the only exception (we were selling diyas and candles).  Surprisingly very many who came to the place (mostly students residing on the campus) did not even bother to look at the banner or the name and particulars we strung up.  They merely strolled around and went straight to the "food" section. I found it little too "childish". However, I later took a stroll round the stalls and imagine what... no sooner than I returned it occurred to me that neither did I look at any other NGOs name or banner!! So much for pointing fingers at others...!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

On and off the Phone

The other day while at home with my parents and family, the two kids Anet and Chris were all life.  Even when everyone decided to take a nap after a late lunch, they were very reluctant.  However, they were the last to sleep but among the first to get up and wake all the others.  They wanted me to engage in every activity of theirs... all games!  Their chatter also was continuous.  Even though Anet is just starting to make sensible words, she has her commentary and instructions and orders running all day long.  However, they just would not like to speak on the phone! When Roshni's father and brother called up from home to wish her happy b'day, she just would not speak.  The same with Chris.  It is the same with me too... when I call up home, they barely ever come on the phone.  In person they keep chatting, but they just would not like to come on the phone!

Enough lessons to learn!
This ain't Anet!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Expression vs Explosion

I find this technique very enriching, but given our usual nature and habit, it is difficult to get out of old ways.  When in an argument, we often try to defeat the other.  We are out to demolish the other and win over.  How about merely expressing oneself, rather than attacking the other?

A rather mature way of arguing is to merely present one's state of mind and heart to the other, rather than breathe fire down the other's whole present and past.  In that way, there is no real point of argument.  There is merely stating of one's feelings and emotions in the given context.  It is not a threat to the other but a merely acknowledgement of one's state. Any mature person would see that it is only an expression and not a challenge to one's position or idea.

Add this to the list of "easier said than done!"

Viewing the different dimensions

I partly attended the Child Protection Policy that was presented to some of our staff members at Don Bosco Prema Seva Sadan, Hayathnagar today.  Personally it was again a challenge for me to view the world from the child's perspective.  Furthermore the interactions I had today with the boys, in groups, as some individuals who came to speak to me privately, the interesting interaction with the volunteers, and finally the running around (as usual)...

This morning I was quite agitated when two of the senior boys were stubbornly holding on to their view that they would not do the morning job (cleaning their dining hall) just because they were not provided a mopper.  My argument was that they could very well use a sack and and if really need be, a stick.  Their insistence on doing their morning job only and only when provided with a mopper, was for me a bit too silly and irritating.  However, I left it at that and got lost in some other urgent tasks.

It was an hour later, I was informed that the boys were not permitted to have b'fast because they did not do their morning jobs.  Now that was too much.  I told one of them to meet me during the 10.30 break.  When he came to my office, I told him to first have his b'fast and then meet me.  I had already checked and informed the cooks to provide b'fast for both of them. After having their b'fast they came to me and we had a long chat.  It was then that I realized that there were some other issues that were plaguing them and this morning job thing was just a small funnel end!

It is a tricky rope to walk. I see things from the perspective of the Assistants (against whom they had much to say), the Dean (whom they didn't trust much) and now these boys themselves.  Not that any one of them is really bad or cruel (besides the fact of denying them b'fast!). Each one is trying to do what is best, but in the process end up locking horns with one another.  Got to see how to help them sort out these issues without any fanfare or fireworks.  All that is required is that each one sees the others viewpoint too. The rest, will automatically fall in place and greater things can be achieved.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The real truth

Another very true and interesting experience living with children...

Is it so?

Being at Ramanthapur with children, I'm relearning very many things. One of the things is to view the world and especially the daily events and happenings from the perspective of the children.  As one with a few years in my age-kitty, I tend to see things from a particular perspective... needless to say that being in the formation setting, it is ONE way of seeing things.  Looking at what happens around the children, and viewing it from their eyes offers very very different perspectives.  I do not claim to have really learnt the art, but the small and short glimpses that I help myself to, seem very different from my own 'grown-up!' perspective.  But all said and done, viewing things from the child's perspective helps understand much of what they do, without being judgemental or prejudiced about people, especially of children themselves.

I guess if children see how we (grown ups) see things, then they'd understand why we behave so 'differently'... Dennis says it best!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

It is I

Yesterday evening as I was half way through my bath, I heard a loud voice outside my room calling out "Brother!! Brother!" and when I asked from inside who it was, the voice stated, "It is I!" (in Telugu). When not sure of what I heard, I asked again, and the same reply: "It is I." I almost ran out buck naked, thinking it is Yahweh himself... till my suspicious little brain stopped me! Everytime I asked, who it was, I got the same reply... till I shouted out to wait for 5 mins.

I later found out that it was one of the school going boys who was sent by the Assistant to collect the spare key of the kitchen.  This sort of replies are quite common with children, who presume that the one whom they are calling out "knows me"! What they do not realize is that it is quite difficult to identify someone merely by their voice, from behind closed doors (not one but two) and that too from among a group of 110 boys!

So much for sharing in the experience of Moses on Mt Horeb!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Boys return

The school going kids are slowly returning today.  Almost all of them are happy to be back and as I have a word or two with their guardians who bring them back, the elders say that they have been restless to get back.  So far no tantrums or even tears.  As soon as they are in the campus, they are at home!

One of them made his father prepare his favourite, aloo parathas (potato chapatis) for me and as he handed it over to me, told me to report back to him about the taste!  When I told him that I shared it with the other Fathers and Brothers at lunch and that they asked me to thank him, he was beaming!

Another one was keen that I see his things which he brought from home before he deposits it all in the dormitory.  He just wanted me to see his new pair of clothes and some soaps his relatives gave him before he came here.  Just that.  Once I took a glance, off he went, proudly with his bag slung across his shoulders.

Another one came straight and hugged me with a broad smile.  The single mother was happy to see it.

However, some of them, were brought back by their parents.  I ask myself why then is the child here with us?  Why not at home with his own people?  About some of them I've already got the answers talking to the other confreres and knowing the background.  A few others, I'm still wondering, why? 

Pardoned!

Something that was brought to my notice today as one small fellow was interacting with me, narrating to me in detail his trip to another place during the past two weeks of holidays...
For all the mistakes the children do, we adults hold them accountable and blame them, sometimes for life. Children, on the other hand, excuse so many of our major and serious offences, even those against them, as easily as a blink of an eye.  
This particular boy was narrating how the older boys in this new place were ordering and bossing over them all day and night.  When asked, weren't the other staff members or those incharge around, he so simply and honestly replied:
They surely have so much work to do... how can they be with us all the time. 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Sorting out

The other day during his sermon, Fr Joe Prabhu presented a rather simple analogy of using a simple Maruthi car or a BMW, but the road remains the same.  Whether we use a simple ordinary wrist watch or a costly rolex, time is the same. Often we get lost in the decorative rather than the essential elements of life and living.  Need to have the wisdom to sift through the non-essentials from that what really really matters.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Transformation vs make up

The Chapter discussions are interesting to note.  Among the many things that go on during a Chapter - for that matter, any meeting - there is a very subtle but significant turn that discussions take on, especially when we are talking something very important or crucial.  It is evident when we are talking or discussing about ourselves, our very being.  The discussion sooner than later, takes a detour to 'doing'.  We then end up listing a set of things to be 'done', all the while avoiding a very crucial and essential element of trying to see who we are or striving who we ought to be.  The latter makes us very uncomfortable, it challenges and questions our basics and asks us to make radical choices... for which we are not ready. We satisfy ourselves by mere cosmetic touch ups! 

Restructuring... but why?

Am just back from a rather dreadful preparatory phase of the Provincial chapter.  So far I thought I had attended the worst Chapter already... I guess, I was wrong.  The "best" is yet to come!!

One of the final points that was initiated was that of restructuring our presences.  There was quite a bit of explanation about what we would be doing and how we would go about doing this "restructuring".  However, not once did anyone at all as, Why?  Why restructure at all?  Naturally the next question of on what basis do we restructure? or what is the criteria for remodelling our communities? did not arise at all.  It was quite surprising for me to see, that without answering these questions or atleast attempting these, we have already decided to restructure!!

So much for growth and planned development!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Directing anger

Usually we get angry only with others.  Seldom or never do we get angry with ourselves.  Br John's goodnight was an invitation to get angry with oneself... that would mean that we are willing to look into ourselves and direct our anger inward, than blame it onto someone else.

However, it is often the case that what we find most distasteful in ourselves that we hate in others.  It is actually ourselves that we are defending when we get angry with someone.  Just making sure that my skeletons do not tumble out!

True understanding

Living with the boys here at Ramanthapur, I'm learning quite a few things... one of them, knowing myself.
This morning I was asking myself, "Would I have a different approach or would I have been a different person altogether, were I to be here amidst children before I was placed in the formation setting in the Philosophates?"  I'm not really trying to answer that question this early.  Perhaps I'll be in a better position to answer that question by the end of the year or so.  But for now, one thing is quite clear:
True understanding lies outside the domain of the mind. 
Not everything and not everyone is clear and precise.  We never can really exhaust a concept, leave alone understand it fully... least of all an individual.  There are so many things involved, attached and connected to something as simple as a word or an action that it is almost impossible to claim certainty about anything or anyone. 

An opportunity

The eagle is said to live almost 70 years.  However by 40 it is already 'old' and in order to live its full life needs to make a radical and painful decision.  It retires to a lonely high place, sharpens its beak and then pulls out all its feathers... painful.  It then waits for fresh feathers and wings to grow and with it get a sort of rebirth and go on to live another lifespan! (However, I also learnt a while ago that this is a myth... that eagles do not live more than 30 years and that they do not have the possibility of extending their life cycle! Read more...)
Unfortunately, unlike the 'mythical eagle', we human beings get our full quota of life on a platter.  Very few really risk the painful process of undergoing a radical transformation to renew their lives and living. We just merely exist, some live.

We commence our Provincial Chapter tomorrow and I wonder if we are truly willing to undergo this radical transformation, which the Chapter is calling for.  One of the main points is the restructuring of our institutions/communities.  The Chapter thus truly offers a lovely opportunity but the decision is ultimately ours... mine!  
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