Thursday, 28 April 2016

Noam Chomsky on true education


I came across the following video on Open Culture wherein Noam Chomsky speaks about what being truly educated.  Chomsky paraphrases a “leading physicist” and former MIT colleague, who would tell his students, “it’s not important what we cover in the class; it’s important what you discover.”

On this point of view, to be truly educated means...
  • to be resourceful
  • to be able to “formulate serious questions”  
  • “question standard doctrine, if that’s appropriate”…. 
  • to “find your own way.”

Clericalism: Danger to the Church

Something from Pope Francis on Priesthood and clericalism... 
Clericalism is a danger to the Catholic Church not only because on a practical level it undermines the role of laity in society, but because theologically it "tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace" of all believers, whether they are lay or clergy, Pope Francis said. 
"No one is baptized a priest or bishop," the pope said in a letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. The fundamental consecration of all Christians occurs at baptism and is what unites all Christians in the call to holiness and witness, Catholic News Service reported. 
In the letter, released at the Vatican April 26, Pope Francis said that in lay Catholics' work for the good of society and for justice, "it is not the pastor who must tell the layperson what to do and say, he already knows this and better than we do."

Maahi Ve (A.R. Rahman)

Today while driving back home I heard the last bit of a particular hindi song on the radio.  Somehow it made a nice impression and so I sat this night at the computer trying to find out that song. It turned out to be from the movie Highway... and the singer and musician, the great A.R. Rahman.
While the music itself is very appealing, the lyrics (by Imtiaz Ali) too make meaning.  Add to it the magical voice of Rahman itself.
...shadows console me that you are with me...
... you speak in my silence...

As I glanced at the comments after the song, I was struck by the truth of the following comment by someone named KS Nathan.... and something I too attest to (emphasis added):
It is a true say that Most of rahman's songs are for an individual rather than mass.Of course the mass will come later.But his songs are more enjoyable in solidarity over publicly listening because the song makes our brain to think automatically..And that is a good feeling especially when someone is disturbed mentally or happy or even sad.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Men from Mars!

In usual boarding settings, the children are cautious of the elders, the staff.  In our Navajeevan, we the elders are a bit cautious of a couple of our boys.  Not that they are harmful or 'dangerous'... but they are so different that understanding them is too complex a job - leave alone, they understanding us (our words, instructions or suggestions).

One of them has superseded The Buddha himself!  He goes around providing solutions and suggestions to everyone, so much so the boys call him Picchi R_______ (Mad R________). Any statement made in his presence is always responded to by him... and that reply never has a full stop!  Even to those who are training him in the art of computer designing, (he is sitting at the computer for the first time in his life) he is offering guidelines!

There's another boy (who is a Hindu) who thinks he was the catechist of the Roman Basilica till a couple of months ago.  Whenever a Priest or a Brother recommends something or points out something that is out of place in the Church, he retorts, "So you also think that I don't know?" No amount of persuasion will convince him that things can be done differently.

Then there are a couple of them who agree to all that you say or ask and then repeat exactly the opposite of what you just said.  They'd come asking for a pull over (in the middle of summer!) and when you say that it is not available, they will nod their head and within a couple of minutes will ask, "Do you have one or two?" One will come asking for a trimmer and if your reply is that it is not given to each individual, he will agree and then ask, "Shall I come after bath to get the new one?" One says I want to go and buy a new pair of slippers (when he received a new pair just last week) and I say, that I will not supply him another; his reply would be, "I will come tomorrow then."

Br Justin calls this lot the 'Men from Mars'.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Coursera I

I just completed my maiden Coursera project: Greek and Roman Mythology.  It was a 10 week course offered by the online Coursera.  I had tried this long ago too, but never got beyond the first lecture. This time I persevered.

Why 'Greek and Roman Mythology' one might ask.  Well, I just wanted to feed my mind with some thought for reflection... chewing the cud.  Being at Ramanthapur and that too as an administrator, it is a real fancy to have 'solitude' time.  And I don't think it is right either to seek one everyday!  I wanted to read something, but since that was not happening as frequently as I wanted to, I chose a little more attractive and binding (with deadlines) option.  So from the visible list of courses offered I clicked one that I felt would sustain my initial interest.

Right now, I do not claim to be more learned about myth and mythology, but I certainly am happy and proud. However, i would like to share some of the interesting universal truths the professor would point out while dealing with Greek mythology:

  1. Leadership is choosing between two bad things. 
  2. When you lie, tell a lie closest to the truth.
  3. Secrecy breeds intimacy. 
  4. Human beings have a deep connection with the land. 
  5. Those up and below in a power structure believe in teleology; those in the middle don't. 


The Summer Heat

The summer heat is quite intense this year.  Last night was quite hot.  I could neither sleep nor stay awake.  Even to work at something meant battling sweat and heat.  The energy literally evaporates!  This afternoon there were some showers and that has lowered the temperature very very much!  Yesterday also had to move out of the house a couple of times and it was scorching.  I was looking at the plants along the road and just wondering how on earth are they still alive!  The heat from above, the fire from the tarred road would scorch the plants and trees within hours.  Yet they seem to be bearing it up. But the signs were all too grim - dried leaves, all brown and faded, even the few green leaves were all shriveled up.

Then amidst the meagre traffic of the noon, there were still people awaiting public transport.  Hiding under some little shade of buildings or trees.  Was surprised to even see some vendors and beggars still holding their post!  I suppose when it is a matter of survival, nothing else matters!  The met department predicts a couple of days of increase in the temperature before things get back to "normal" summer!  And what gives us all jitters is the fact that we still haven't entered the month of May.  If April is like this, what would May turn out to be!!
... no doubts about this either!  We'd only get a burnt omelette!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Why am I ....?

This evening when I returned from my work at the Electricity office, I found a couple of staff members and the Assistants waiting for me at the portico.  They reported that they caught some of the boys of the Printing press purchasing a couple of beer bottles in view of having a party in the Press!  Evidently the staff were quite agitated.  I did not want to react immediately.  So I stood there for a while, listened to their side. The duo who were caught red-handed purchasing had arrived in the meantime.  They didn't have much to say other than repeat what the staff had already narrated.  I didn't say anything to anyone.  Slowly the group dispersed.  Individually some of the staff members and confreres approached me later reminding me to "take action".

It was my turn to give the goodnight tonight.  I sat for long in the Chapel prior to that.  Most of all asking the Lord what was I to share with the boys.  The boys and I know all too well, that I speak only what I really mean.  I do not entertain with some cock-and-bull stories with no end.

I kept asking myself, if I was disturbed at all by what happened today with the boys?  (There were several other significant things also that happened today in the office and with others too).  I couldn't really identify what was exactly disturbing me! I ended up giving some hotch-potch collection of thoughts for good night tonight.

I still am asking myself: Why am I disturbed?  

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Spiritual Direction

In the Acts, the incident of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch offers a simple but profound analogy for spiritual direction - for that matter any discernment process.

  1. The felt need of the eunuch for a better, clearer understanding based on a sincere desire and a prior attempt to learn. 
  2. The competence of Philip to be able to grasp the eunuch's present situation, and offer him a holistic explanation and guide him to a deeper meaning. 
It is always a three dimensional process: the willingness on the part of the one seeking and the competency of the one offering.  Overseeing this whole process is the Holy Spirit! 

Identifying children in need of care and protection

A couple of days ago we had a review meeting of one of the commissions of the Province.  While discussing a particular point, the issue of admission of children to our YaR (young at risk) centres came up.  After a couple of minutes, one of the directors asked, "Don't you let CWC (Child Welfare Committee) decide that?"

I found that very relevant and apt.  Letting the CWC screen properly and admit only those children who really are in need of care and protection be admitted in such institutions as our YaR settings, would entail that our YaR settings really be YaR settings and not any general boardings.

As of now, any child with or without parents, in special situation or not, willing or not, will be "seduced" into the institution!  The major disadvantage of such a faulty procedure is that children who really need 'care and protection' (as a group designated by the JJ Act) will not get the same owing to the 'mixed' group of children living in the house.  Perhaps linked with this itself is the 'stigma' that the children with families have now to bear as 'orphans and street children'!

100 years of movies in 100 shots

Maturity and Responsibility

The other day while speaking to the boys in my good morning talk, I narrated the story of the fight between two people in a village. One arguing that the other stole his cow; while the other stubbornly stating that he did not.  Only a while later the latter admits softly to having picked up a rope which was lying on the road...
Now that's how an immature person would argue. He never really "stole" the cow, leave alone touch it.  He merely took the rope!  That the cow was tied to the other end of the rope is not a matter of his responsibility.  He didn't tie it, neither did he ask the cow to follow the rope!

Whenever we say a word or undertake a particular action, there are reasons preceding it, and consequences following it.  Only a mature person will take responsibility for all three: the act itself, the reasons for choosing a particular means and the consequences of that choice.

Philosophy and life

Over the past few months, there has been several times when I've questioned myself about the validity of pursuing my higher studies in Philosophy.  Having lived and experienced life, at close quarters in Punganur and here, Ramanthapur, I see the disjoint between philosophical study and real life.

However, I'm also quite aware - and happily so - that what I am is aided much by my own philosophical study and reflection.  If not for philosophy perhaps my view of the horizon I now behold may not be the same.

Honestly speaking I think the disjoint is not so much between philosophy as such and life but in the way philosophy is treated and looked upon and the sort of life commitment one is willing to make.

The Sound of Silence

Here's the original version of the song 'The Sound of Silence'... by Simon and Garfunkel...

... a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence. 

Interestingly it is said that this original version when released in 1964 did not make any news - so much so, it bombed so badly that the team split up.  Only two years later a revised version caught the attention of people and became a hit. 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Life-giving Water vs Entertaining Cricket

Amidst all that is going on in the country (naturally and man-made) and all that is being created by political parties for their hidden and sinister agenda, one thing that caught my attention and I personally wish to see it come up by public demand is the following: IPL matches and the drought stricken state of Maharashtra.

On the one hand, the state is reeling under severe drought conditions - mind you it is still mid-April... we are yet to step into the month of May! - and on the other hand is the extravagance of a game (cricket).  In testing and difficult times as these, a game would surely have a great soothing effect.  But not if it robs one of precious and basic necessities of life.  Given a choice between basic amenities of life and entertainment, anyone sensible will choose roti-kapada-makaan (food - clothing - shelter).

Contrast this: mere maintenance of a cricket ground one requires 60,000 litres of water per day, and people of Latur receive a water-train for drinking water.  We either find alternatives to keep up the playground (perhaps use recycled sewage water) or make a radical choice between water in the mouth or under one's feet.

Only one who really feels this crunch has the right to decide!  

God at Work

I cannot but get this quote out of my head and sight. Something in this keeps me wondering and at the same time alluding.  Perhaps I'm not spending quality time sitting in silence to see what exactly this has to say to me.

However, one thing that I find very strange but rightly in place is the location where I found this picture: I found it when I googled for a picture on 'priesthood'.

To recognize, acknowledge, accept and work accordingly - namely that it is God who is the primary agent at work in life, especially religious and priestly life - is nothing short of a divine revelation/miracle. 

News...


Whale Done: Parenting

Here are a few more insights from the same book Whale Done: Parenting 

  • (39 ff) ... what behaviour pattern are you rewarding, especially in public?  (that's why the phrase on p. 11 "He's trained us well!") ...rather use reinforcements to affirm the positive behaviour you expect... do not take notice of the behaviour you do not want your child to grow in... ensure that the reinforcement is immediate and varied (diversify the rewards). 
  • (44) earn their trust
  • (46) take small steps... 
  • (56) focus not on the behaviour but the thinking behind it to the need that motivates it.  (very much related to viewing things from the children's perspective). 
  • (70) ask them to do it... and then reward them for doing it. 
  • (77) Avoid the overusage of 'No'... create an atmosphere wherein you won't have to use that word.  Also emphasize and reward what you want done. 
  • (87) Observe what he seeks attention for
  • (90) with younger children use redirection... get their attention to something else and then help resolve the issue at hand.  With older children and adults use reasoning... 
  • (106) Do not try to reason with an upset person.  Leave the area - do something else (take time out). Let the situation cool down. 
While some of these may sound too simple or very evident, but read in the context and attempting to actually put into practice, will help see how we (grown ups) need to consciously adopt this methodology to be better rather than make children do things our way. 

Catch them doing things right

Last month I read a book titled, Whale Done: Parenting.  It was a simple book but with lots of insights which speak of unconventional ways of helping children grow.  Earlier models and methods of bringing up children had a particular rationale and logic but this one advocates a much different one. The intention however is the same: help children grow into mature and sensitive human beings.

The book is narrated by a young mother who is also learning the art of training killer whales in an aquatic amusement park.  The lessons she learns at work with the gigantic killer whales she translates into helping her young son grow, with amazing positive results.

Here below are some of the points I found very meaningful and challenging too. The method the book advocates demands much of the parents but is indeed helpful for the children in the long run.
Right in the beginning, the parents of the small boy realise this fact:
He's trained us well (11)
Often parents think that they are the ones who are teaching their children, without realizing the fact that much before that the tiny tots have already moulded the parents according to their liking!
Approach the situation from the children's point of view. (36)
As adults we do the mistake of presuming that we are sole authority on children's matters.  We view it totally from our stand point.  It may indeed be true, but unless the child sees the point, it will only feel oppressed and compelled to do things which it does not want.  Looking at things as how children view them, even the attempt itself,  makes a huge difference in the way we approach the issues and thereby help children review their perspective.

The crux of the methodology is perhaps summed up in this phrase:
Catch them doing things right. (42)
Conventional methods stressed on being alert to the 'wrong doings' and thereby weed out by reprimanding or addressing those unwanted traits.  'Whale Done' method asks one to overlook the wrong doings, and focus, affirm and endorse the right doings.  It is another form of saying, help them do right by affirming the right rather than condemning the mistakes they occasionally make  (easier said than done, though). 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

You know Rajendra?

Here's a conversation I had with one of the senior most boys in the house (but one who has the mind of one of the youngest in the house):
Brother, I want you to do me a favour.  You know, Don Bosco home in Ongole?  There is one person who daily goes to office, walking past the Don Bosco gate every morning.  His name is Rajendra. I want his phone number!
When I was too stupefied to reply or state anything, he innocently asks, "Don't you know Rajendra, Brother?"  

Lack of hunger, not food!

A young Jesuit keen on gaining a wide experience of the different forms and ways of life spent a day as a beggar near a busy street. At the end of the day, he had not received a single penny.  Not one had given him anything at all!!  Hungry, tired and totally at a loss, as this young cleric was about to return to his seminary, a 'fellow' beggar noticing his "zero balance" offered him some bread.  As they together ate the bread, the seminarian was grateful for this kind gesture and at the end of the conversation, the senior man told him not to get discouraged but to come back again the next day.

I know not if the cleric went back the next day or not, but I'm told that from that day on he learnt the value of food.

"I am the bread of life" makes sense only in such a context, not when you have your table full and overflowing and you have nothing more to do than just go and eat!  If you really are hungry, the type of food will not matter and certainly you will be genuinely grateful.

What most of us religious lack is not food or resources (never!) but real hunger!

Merit of hard work

I remember a story I heard when I was small.

A wayward young man, living off his father's hard work, had a fight with the father who would not anymore support him.  Challenging his father to get his 'own' money, he set off, thinking how hard it would be to earn some amount enough for a meal?  Lazy and ignorant that he was, on the first day, he stole some money from his mother.  In the evening when the father returned from work, the son proudly displayed the currency.  The father took it and crushed it and threw it away.  The boy only found it amusing. The father reminded him to 'earn' his wage!  The next day the son merely borrowed from someone. In the evening the father trampled the note and still the boy did nothing.  The third day, the son really slogged it out and earned the money.  This time when the father was about to burn the note, the son grabbed it and held fast to it.  That was enough for the father to know that his son had indeed earned it the hard way.

We religious and Priests often get money... not really earn it.  So we don't mind it being spent in all sorts of idiotic ways.  Even if we do lose it, we are not much affected or alarmed. May be because we know we'll get some more again, from somewhere or someone.  Our whole outlook towards management and administration will change when we really start earning what we spend. 

Grace vs Hard work

Anything freely received is not much appreciated.  Neither will it be.  Perhaps it shouldn't be!  A product or something 'earned' which has your sweat mingled, will anytime be more satisfactory than something received, even if grand, but without any effort on my part.

(Now that's for someone whose conscience is still sensitive. For those whose conscience is blunted and hardened such gains without hardwork, toil, sacrifice, sweat and pain will be perfect benefits of life).

Nothing can ever supersede the genuine joy, satisfaction and pride of a hard earned meal!

God's grace flows in abundance in nature, in life... and it is for free.  But if I don't make that minimal effort to make the most of it, I'll be like a golden pot with a large hole at the bottom!

Priesthood

Let me quote what I read on Manu's blog this morning.  Find it quite profound and meaningful.
It is not that I want to become a Priest rather it is the realization that Jesus is asking you to be his by being a Priest…

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Do not seek to be merciful… do not allow Participation

Reflections on the Year of Mercy (7)
(courtesy: Fr T.D. John)

Do not seek to be merciful… Do not allow Participation in decision making 

Involving people in decision making is a waste of time. It is very messy too. When there is strong authority there will be unity of direction and rapid growth. Remember the emergency days! What do children and people know.

During this year of mercy I will take all the decisions. Each time I will tell the people that I am doing it to save them trouble. I tell them that I know what is best for them.

Statutory Warning: When people participate they will be satisfied and collaborate more.

Do not seek to be merciful… Never Listen to anyone

Reflections on the Year of Mercy (6)
(courtesy: Fr T.D. John)

Do not seek to be merciful… Never Listen to anyone 

I am told that Article 12 of the UN Convention on Child Rights speaks of their right to be heard. But I have the “Grace of State” and God inspires me to do what is best. Why should I listen to their views and their feelings? Only the weak and the servants listen. Even the Bible says so. Servant of Yahweh has the ears open to listen like a disciple.

During this year of mercy I make a conscious effort not to listen to people, much less understand them.

Statutory Warning: If you listen, you will grow in understanding.

Do not seek to be merciful… don’t respect human rights

Reflections on the Year of Mercy (5)
(courtesy: Fr T.D. John)

Do not seek to be merciful… And don’t respect human rights 

Justice is not a norm. It is only one of the possible virtues. We are the people in authority. We own everything. And whatever we decide is right. After all, even the government does not give proper wages to the contract employees. Which multi-national does not cheat for profit? We can do what we want provided we are not caught!

Do not speak about Human Rights; much less defend the rights of the dis-advantaged. We will get into trouble with this talk of human rights. They will cut our FCRA!

During this Year of Mercy, let us stop talking about human rights, equality of women or child rights. Every day we will remind one another that Justice should not meet Mercy.

Statutory warning: “In his days, justice and mercy shall meet.” (Ps. 85, 10)

Do not seek to be merciful… Act arbitrarily

Reflections on the Year of Mercy (4)
(courtesy: Fr T.D. John)

Do not seek to be merciful… Act arbitrarily, without accountability 

The talk of proper procedures is a big joke. Where is the thrill of being the boss if I am to be accountable? Why should I follow procedures when I am in charge? Did I reach this far to be bound by common rules and procedures? I have the right to do what I want. I am not accountable to anyone.

During this year of mercy, I will announce that I will take arbitrary decisions and not follow any procedures. I will be careful to be accountable for my dealings.

Statutory Warning: If you follow procedures, people will feel safe and take responsibility.

Do not seek to be merciful... be a narcissist

Reflections on the Year of Mercy (3)
(courtesy: Fr T.D. John)

Do not seek to be merciful… Be a Narcissist, an egoist! 

Eugenio Scalfari, a journalist once pointed out to Pope Francis that Jesus told us to love others as we love ourselves. So the love for one’s neighbour is equal to the love we have for ourselves. What many call narcissism is recognized as valid, positive.

The pope said that the word narcissism indicates an excessive love for oneself. The people most affected by this are those who have a lot of power. The narcissists abuse power and the abusers are always narcissists and suffering a kind of mental disorder.

During this Year of Mercy I will tell people that I am a narcissist and that I enjoy being one.

Statutory warning: Being a narcissist is injurious to mental health.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Do not seek to be merciful... seek positions

Reflections on the Year of Mercy (2)
(courtesy: Fr T.D. John)

Do not seek to be merciful… Seek positions, and not to be a Servant 

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was offered once and for all, and would not need to be repeated like those by the other high priests. Likewise, Jesus has already been a servant to his disciples. Jesus has done it once and for all. We need not be servants anymore.

There are those who say that leadership should not be repeated, but rotated. I disagree. We are the rulers. Your job is to follow. We will rotate leadership positions among the privileged few.

During this year of mercy I will tell people the truth, namely, that I do not want to be a servant. But I will continue to preach to the people about their being servants. As for me, I want position, privileges and servants, the highest privilege I can get.

Statutory Warning: Falling from high places is injurious to health.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Do not seek to be merciful… Seek privileges

Reflections on the Year of Mercy (1)
(courtesy: Fr T.D. John)

Do not seek to be merciful… Seek privileges 

I will make a list privileges that I have or could have. I will speak about my privileges. I will privilege only those who are privileged.

During this Year of Mercy I will consciously serve those who are more privileged than me. I will ensure that I do not serve the needy. I will take every privilege that comes my way. I will even fight for them.

Statutory warning: When you give up privileges you are already merciful to the common people.

Formation?

Wonder which of the two engaged in the conversation below are we "forming" in our formation settings...
Feels like got the right picture to depict some of our formation strategies and settings as well!

The blame game

Initially everyone cribs about how there is no freedom and no possibility of free thinking, leave alone doing things creatively.  Sooner or later a time comes when even if one has the freedom to perform a task as per one's discretion, one does not exercise it, leaving the decision making to someone else, merely to avoid any responsibility and the added thrill of blaming someone else. Add to that the 'right' to continue grumbling about the lack of freedom!

A different way of being the Church...

Today's Gospel is about Jesus "multiplying" the food and feeding the five thousand.  Interestingly the words Jesus uses in this event are used in the Holy Eucharist during the moment of consecration.
The boy is happy to share...!
Perhaps this is how the Holy Mass should have originally been.  It is hard to even imagine how different Christianity and the Church would have been if only we had adopted this "event" or instance as the model of our liturgical Eucharistic celebration.
... an open space (open for all, no walls, boundaries, anyone feeling they are not welcome)
... the miracle of sharing (in contrast to the Priest 'feeding' or each one 'gaining' something)
... the participation of everyone (against the solo performance of the Priest or the choir)
... the context and the ambiance of natural everyday living (rather than the paraphernalia of liturgy... vestments, ornamental altar and all that is put on it, the ruberics,...)

Relationship and Discernment

I wasn't very much prepared with a set of ready made talks or sessions for the PIME and diocesan students this week.  I was more keen to gather their opinion and accordingly tailor sessions fitting their requirements and needs.

Something that struck me was that at times I was sharing and asking questions or challenging them with some ideas which I never prepared or thought about. They never occurred to me neither during the preparation nor at any previous time. So when I would reach back my room to sum up for myself what I had done with the students, I would be surprised to note the content of what I just discussed with them.

One such theme was the intricate connection between faith, relationship and discernment.  That relationships matter in faith is something I was prepared with.  But that the depth and width and openness of ones relationships have a proportionate bearing on one's faith in God (and others) is something that I 'blurted' out several times and spoke much about.  So I found myself asking the Brothers (and myself later): How well am I related to God?  Do I know Him or do I merely strive to know His will at sporadic times?  How can I really know His will without being related to Him?  And if I am related to Him closely, do I really need to strive also to know His will?  Because just like if I am closely related to someone, I naturally will sense the other persons pulse or feelings, even if words are not uttered or statements made.

If I truly am close to Him, will I really miss His pulse, His mind, His will, ...?

Even the narrow gate is given up!

(As narrated by Fr TD John)
Many years ago while on their train journey back to Hyderabad, Fr TD and KT Xavier alighted at Moula Ali station (because trains normally halt there till any platform at the next station/terminal, Secunderabad is free).  They looked around to find a way to come on to the road. As they found a compound wall and were climbing up some rubble to scale the wall, they noticed all the others watching them with weird expressions.  It took a while for them to realize that they were so lost in climbing the rubble and scaling the wall, that they did not notice a wicket gate just next to the rubble! 

Rosary Dogs

During my three day stay at the PIME study house, I came across the laziest dogs I've ever met.  They were a pair of labradors. Most of the day and night I saw them lying down at one end of the corridor. If ever they moved, they plodded along the verandah to the dining hall.  The only time I saw them walking was when they were on a leash and being led by the Brothers during the community rosary!  

The height of their lethargy: one of them would lie down and eat its food!!  Not once, but every meal! Surely must have been Priests or religious in their previous life!  

Just in case you thought I made that last remark in sarcasm... you were partially wrong: I said so also because they prayed the rosary every night!

Reading, reflecting and writing

Since Monday I was at the PIME study house at Trimulgherry, Secunderabad for a three day animation programme for their 19 students.  It was a good refresher time for me.  While at their study house, I got to meet their three formators.  One meal time, one of them was sharing something what youngsters in Brazil were asking him long ago.  "Why are there only four gospels?  Why didn't the other eight write too?  It is so boring to read the same stuff over and over again!"

Well, on the one hand, some youngsters were aware of the 'other' gospels and were keen to study them for a different version of Jesus and His times.  They were keen to know all possible dimensions of this person named Jesus.

Some wanted to know why the others were so dumb or dull so as to not leave behind such a rich legacy which they were fortunate to be part of.  (of course, they forget that some of them were illiterate and certainly not writers!).

Gets me thinking, how many of us spend time thinking, reflecting and ruminating and then what?  Nothing for others to even read or 'chew' in their free time?  At least does it improve one's own quality of life, so that even if one does not literally write something, at least one's own life becomes an open book for others to read and be inspired by.  

To get oneself to the desk to write something, one ought to have something to write about. At least this is how I forced myself to write: in order to read and continually reflect!

Friday, 1 April 2016

The 'wow' vs the 'everydayness'

In today's gospel, there is this combo event: Jesus' instructing his disciples to cast their net on the other side and then later dining with them.  Of course, by any given account, the former is more dramatic and 'eye-catching' in comparison to the latter. But for someone who gets in the shoes of the apostles and Jesus and the relationship they developed over the couple of years together, it will not take long to realize the profound meaning of the latter: Jesus dining with them.  One common element among them both, however, is the fish!

To suggest another location for hauling fish, is magic (the 'wow' element).  To dine with someone, to spend time with, to break bread with and for someone, especially those who have lost hope, courage and faith, is so humane and thus precisely, divine.

In life we often easily mix up the two.  We prefer to be dazzled than to be shaken. We choose to enjoy the glitter rather than sit by the embers.  We like to be entertained by magic than be involved in relating life and love.

Ingredients of life are the same; the concoction or the proportion or priorities are not always the same!
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