Bewildered #MondayMusings

Bewildered #MondayMusings

It’s harder to be bewildered than to be clever.
Bewilderment makes us insecure, and

No longer are we……
prepared to be bewildered by the magnitude of this Universe
in awe of the Creator who made it all
amazed by the beauty of Nature
ready to wait things out and see the Universe unfold its plan…

What’s to be bewildered when we have seen it all and done it all?

No bewilderment, please.

We want……
quick answers to our questions
immediate insights into every painful situation
instant responses to our prayers.
We want a plastic God that we can mold to our image.

We think we’re clever..
And clever we may be…..
But at the cost of being wise?

Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. ~ Rumi

As for me, I’m selling my cleverness (the little that I have anyway!)
I’m attempting to get rid of my too-easy answers to life’s questions and my sometimes know-it-all attitude.

I’m working on……
seeking,
being amazed,
examining other opinions and
being open to other perspectives.

What about you?

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Grace Is The Glue

Grace Is The Glue

I’ve often written about how grace has played such a big role in my life – saving from the consequences of very wrong choices.

Every day, I’m more convinced that grace is the glue that holds me together.

This is a story from a few years ago, but it’s true and well worth repeating.

Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.

But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

“He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, ‘Here you go,'” Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, “Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you’re going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, “like what’s going on here?” Diaz says. “He asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?'”

Diaz replied: “If you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me … hey, you’re more than welcome.

“You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help,” Diaz says.

Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.

“The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi,” Diaz says. “The kid was like, ‘You know everybody here. Do you own this place?'”

“No, I just eat here a lot,” Diaz says he told the teen. “He says, ‘But you’re even nice to the dishwasher.'”

Diaz replied, “Well, haven’t you been taught you should be nice to everybody?”

“Yea, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way,” the teen said.

Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. “He just had almost a sad face,” Diaz says.

The teen couldn’t answer Diaz — or he didn’t want to.

When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, “Look, I guess you’re going to have to pay for this bill ’cause you have my money and I can’t pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I’ll gladly treat you.”

The teen “didn’t even think about it” and returned the wallet, Diaz says. “I gave him $20 … I figure maybe it’ll help him. I don’t know.”

Diaz says he asked for something in return — the teen’s knife — “and he gave it to me.”

via NPR

Grace has been the glue for me

For some reason this story made me think of my  life and how God gave me several opportunities to turn myself around. I’m glad that like the teenage boy, I finally took them.

But grace is a not a one time happening. For me, it’s a constant. Constantly shedding light on dark areas of my life and giving me the strength to work on these areas. Some days are harder than others. But His grace is sufficient for me. Graceful living, I call it.

“Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.”
― Eugene O’Neill

Do you depend on grace too?

The Crossroad That Led Me to the Best

The Crossroad That Led Me to the Best

Today I’m happy to have Lux Ganzon of  About Life And Love guest post here.

Lux currently balances her time working on her dream business and pursuing her passion for writing; finding her one true love while building her own happily ever after; and chasing dreams as she lives in the reality of the present. Through her blog she hopes to someday leave a dent in the world.

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The Crossroad That Led Me to the Best

God will not bring me to it if He can’t bring me through it.

When you’re driving in an unfamiliar place, have you encountered a crossroad?

Which path did you choose?

Crossroads, reroutes, dead ends. I can’t count how many of those I’ve experienced in my life journey.

Sometimes, I feel like I picked the wrong one and wonder what would have happened if I didn’t.

For example, I was having a good time in my career years ago. It was a fun environment. I was earning awards for my performance. At some point, I even fell in love there.

But, I couldn’t stay put knowing there are greater things ahead. I’ve always believed that the good life is the enemy of the great life. And I’m not going to let the good stop me from getting what is great.

So, I left.

Only to be in a dead-end kind of 9-5 job. Bigger pay, of course. So much bigger. But it was a really toxic place; people were difficult to work with, there was a lot of pressure, we weren’t treated as humans. We were like robots.

I got sick a lot. And despite the financial fulfilment, my spirit was running empty. To top it all, that person I fell in love with in my previous job left me for someone else. I was so hurt.

It was devastating. I questioned God’s plans and wondered why He let those things happened.

Then again, wasn’t it me who begged Him to let me pursue that career? Wasn’t it me who turned a blind eye to the red flags I saw on that guy? Wasn’t it me who chose this path?

 

the-crossroad-that-led-me-to-the-best

Looking back, I realized one important lesson. Through it all, whichever path I choose, God never left my side.

I realized that had I not left the job I loved, God would still be there. Had I not given up on that relationship, God would still be there. But if it’s not good for me, if it’s not part of His grand plan, He would still have made a way for me to realize my mistakes and bring me somewhere else. He would still bring me people who would point me to the right direction and send me to a situation wherein I’d realize where I should be.

The most effective way for a stubborn kid like me though is pain. Pain was the trigger to make me see clearly. Suffering was the way for me to realize what really is best for me.

Truly whenever I’ve thought I’m having it good, God steps in and tells me, “My child, the best is yet to come. Come follow me and I’ll show you more.”

Have you ever come to a crossroad and didn’t know where to turn? What did you do?

Joyfully Religious #MondayMusings

Joyfully Religious #MondayMusings

Yesterday, I watched with shock a video of a religious ritual called ‘Made Madasnana’ practised in some Hindu temples in Karnataka, South India. The ritual involves pilgrims rolling on over the plantain leaves that contain the remains of food partaken by Brahmins! This is followed by a bath in the river. While there have been noises that this is a casteist practice, I saw that Brahmins too practiced this ritual. My question is how does this please God? How does this take them closer to being joyful.

Other religions, including Christianity, have various rituals that involve pain and sacrifice in an attempt to get closer to God or receive certain favours from Him. The monks of old wore hairshirts and regularly flagellated themselves. I’ve known of people who walk on their knees up slopes and steps to Churches. To me, hurting oneself, is in no way a means to a relationship with God.

I remember when I studied in a Catholic college and had to attend a three day religious retreat every year. Although we had to sleep on the floor in classrooms and eat some awful food, we enjoyed spending three whole days with our friends. More importantly, two whole nights to laugh and fool around. One night the nun in charge of us was disturbed by the volume of chatter and laughter. She strode into our room and ordered : “Girls, think of death and go to sleep!”  This, naturally, resulted in more giggles as we pretended to sleep. Thinking back, I wonder why she wanted us to associate our experience with something morose. I may not remember what the preachers said, but I certain have wonderfully memories of laughter. Good clean laughter, to me, is a religious experience.

To me, religion is not to be associated with rituals or a set of rules to be followed. Rather it is a joyful response to the love of an all-loving and all-forgiving God. And naturally, such joy only spills over in caring and being there for others. We are all called to be joy-bearers.

I love these words from Elias Penn-Smith : Identify God’s emissaries by the light in their eyes, by the lilt in their song, by the glow of their skin and the joy within; not with the face of a dried-up peach, and a voice that would teach of doom and sin. 

More recently, Pope Francis seemed to define a Christian as being a person of joy :

“Joy, which is like the sign of a Christian. A Christian without joy is either not a Christian or he is sick. There’s no other type! He is not doing well health-wise! A healthy Christian is a joyful Christian. I once said that there are Christians with faces like pickled peppers [sour faces – ed] … Always with these [long] faces! Some souls are also like this, this is bad! These are not Christians. A Christian without joy is not Christian. Joy is like the seal of a Christian. Even in pain, tribulations, even in persecutions”.

My uncle who is a Catholic priest once shared this story in his sermon. He told me the source was The Lord Is My Shepherd, But…Confessions of The Natural Way by Barbara Jurgenson.

She tells the story of Petronius waiting in a slow moving line before he got his turn at the Judgment. He sees an angel coming along with delicious hot-buttered rolls, holding out a tray to each person. Petronius is hungry, but he suddenly realizes he must not take a roll. All his life he did his best to avoid being carried away by pleasure. He had deliberately ignored pleasurable things in order to concentrate his attention more fully on serving God. Similarly he passes by a bed of fragrant red flowers and a cute kitten beckons him to pet it. He feels he is being tested.

Then, Petronius hears God saying, “Well done, my son, I’m glad you came here. There’s just one thing…” Then Petronius noticed that God had something on his lap – a small yellow and white kitten. On the table next to God’s throne he noticed a vase of the fragrant flowers he had forced himself to ignore. And a plate with a half-eaten roll.

The moral of the story according to Jurgensen: People will have to give an account to God on the day of judgment for all the good things they failed to enjoy!

Whatever be our religous beliefs, I do believe that we are called to live them out with joy. Do you agree?

joyfully-religious

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Insha’Allah  #MondayMusings

Insha’Allah #MondayMusings

Insha’Allah‘ is a word I heard growing up from the Muslims I interacted with who were either friends of my family, school or college mates and later colleagues.

It’s a lovely word that means ‘if God so wills it’.  And yet, it’s not a word that has any fatalistic tones to it. Rather, it’s an affirmation of faith in a God who always work for our good.

Incidentally, that’s the kind of God I believe in. An all-loving God who works in ways we may not always fathom, but who knows what we need. But let me qualify that.

It’s easy to blame the world’s problems on God. A recent post by Danny Brown, one of the most inspiring bloggers I know, quotes a ‘Christian’ who talked about the refugee crisis being one of the unfathomable acts of God! Really? We take and take from the Earth. We plunder and loot her resources. We attack other nations for flimsy reasons. We torture, rape and kill those whose notions of faith and God are different from our own. And yet, we conveniently blame it on God.

No. That just doesn’t sit right with me.

The God I believe in wants us to get off our butt and do something brave with our lives. He challenges us to move out of our comfort zones. He pushes us to reach out to others in kindness.

And when we have done all we can, then we have the right to say, ‘Insha’Allah’.

inshaallah
Let me share this poem from Danusha Lameris

I don’t know when it slipped into my speech
that soft word meaning, “if God wills it.”
Insha’Allah I will see you next summer.
The baby will come in spring, insha’Allah.
Insha’Allah this year we will have enough rain.

So many plans I’ve laid have unraveled
easily as braids beneath my mother’s quick fingers.

Every language must have a word for this.
A word our grandmothers uttered
under their breath as they pinned the whites, soaked in lemon, hung them to dry in the sun, or peeled potatoes, dropping the discarded skins into a bowl.

Our sons will return next month, insha’Allah. Insha’Allah this war will end, soon. Insha’Allah the rice will be enough to last through winter.

How lightly we learn to hold hope,
as if it were an animal that could turn around
and bite your hand. And still we carry it
the way a mother would, carefully,
from one day to the next.

Let us act positively and hope actively!

I’m linking in to Write Tribe’s #MondayMusings today.

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Pic credit : Deviant Art

The Danger of Superstition #septemberchallenge

The Danger of Superstition #septemberchallenge

The danger of superstition is that we put our minds on hold when we follow it. In the words of the Indian philosopher, Swami Vivekananda, ‘If superstition enters, the brain is gone.’

the-danger-of-superstition

Vastu shastra is a traditional Hindu system of architecture. ‘Vastu‘ translates to mean ‘dwelling place’ and ‘shastra‘ translates as ‘doctrine, teaching’. As I understand it, ancient Indian manuals of architecture advocated that houses should be built to ensure that the five elements of earth, air, water, space and fire are accommodated in a particular way. The direction in which the whole house and each room within the house faces was specified keeping these elements in mind, much like the Chinese, feng shui.

While there might be some scientific basis to this doctrine,  whether it can be actually called a science is debatable.

Somewhere, around 25 years or so ago, vastu shastra was revived with a vengeance.  Several ‘experts’ began to earn big money in exchange for their views on how houses and buildings must be made ‘vastu-compliant‘. If that was not bad enough, people who are not doing well financially are told that the reason for their situation is that their homes or offices are not vastu-compliant! You now have people making crazy structural changes to their houses, selling them off for a song, or pulling them down and rebuilding them. Naturally, these ‘experts’ recommend architects and contractors, and get commissions out of them too!

Vastu shastra has now moved into becoming a superstitious practice followed out of fear.

Just recently, my brother got a frantic call from the tenant of the apartment he was renting out on behalf of an uncle. The man had paid the rental deposit and taken the keys to move in. Then his family told him he was bringing terrible bad luck on himself as the entrance door of the apartment does not face east! He told my brother, “I don’t believe in this, but I don’t want to take a chance.”

Two neighbours are fighting in court because one of them extended his apartment in such a way that the shape of the outer walls of the other’s apartment is no longer square and therefore not vastu-compliant!

I know of another family whose business was doing badly. They are very devout Catholics but also part of an evangelical movement. The priest heading this movement, advised them that their new home was not built in a good place. Naturally, the’Lord’ told him that they needed to build a new house (perhaps, he then recommended a contractor too!). The family moved out and built a new house. Soon after, they lost their son in a tragic accident, the mother developed cancer, and recently one son’s marriage broke up. I wonder how the family reconciles this in their mind and what the ‘Lord’ and his priest have to say now.

Are we clinging on to superstition so that we can find a cause for our suffering? Are we looking out for easy answers? Are allowing ourselves to be led by people who prey on our fears for their own gain?

 

It is not my intention to offend anyone with this post, so my apologies in advance. However, these are my views and I will stand by them.

Linking into the #1Word Challenge hosted by Lisa Witherspoon and Janinie Huldie. Today’s prompts are : Tired / Superstion