Sunday, March 15, 2009


Emptiness, a deep sense of nothing
A feeling of what is ‘not’
That which stirs and moves
But lies hidden in layers of emotion

A stone on still water
Causing ripples in one direction
What starts ends sooner or later
Stillness and emptiness settles in once more

Emptiness reflects beingness
There’s nothing, which means something
The pain and uneasiness remain
In a place where we have never been

What if I die today?
Will my emptiness go away?
But where will I go today?
Behind my emptiness, with it or leaving it behind today?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

International women’s day. Women as the womb (bread) of life: From the floor to the table

March 8th is being celebrated as the International Women’s Day and women all over the world will get together to do things the way they want it done. To see and let see the way they perceive things. As it comes during the season of prayer and fasting as well, it warrants a Christian response to what this day should then be.

Traditionally women have always been seen as child bearers, as surrogate mothers who help to bring children into the world. Their place has been relegated to a spot which suggests inferiority in comparison with males. The church has never been able to break free of this culture of discrimination and in turn has maintained a male caucus in the form of a halo around the church and its institutions. The bubble (halo) can never be justified and yet it has never been broken because no one has tried to pierce the hollowness it contains.

As we experience (I won’t say celebrate as that would be derogatory to some women who are in constant suffering) the international women’s day it is imperative to suggest a lenten involvement towards the setting right of many wrong’s that have penetrated our society. Fasting and prayer are meant to set right what has gone wrong and therefore we should also set right what is inarguably wrong.

Mother Teresa and sister Alphonso recently have been pushed up to the pinnacle of sainthood and yet these women were never near the table of the Lord, the altar (the holy of holies for Christians). They stood down faithfully on the cold floor waiting for the bread of life to be brought to them. Yet today they have been brought up to glory by a body of men in vestments.

The concept of communion or fellowship among Christians is to come together and partake of the body of the Lord Jesus. It is symbolic and real at the same time. The bread of life is prepared through a process which starts in the field and ends up at the table. So life is inherent and implicit in it. But what about the womb of life present in each woman? The life which begins in communion and ends with the creation of life. Indeed the womb (bread) of life! And yet women are kept at a safe distance. Life is kept away from life!

So this women’s day my prayer is simple. Let us as men move away from the two life giving realities of this world; the bread of life and the womb of life. Let there be a connection and a unification of the floor and the table. Let life meet life.

(Logo from

Friday, March 6, 2009

Don’t just waste yourself. Rather, manage your waste!

As lent and fasting gather steam and surge ahead as part of the Christian calendar, some people already look tired and even sport beards as part of their piety. The thought during lent and fasting is also one of wasting ourselves, by not eating and sometimes following a strict diet. It also brings about a belief that by doing this we are purifying ourselves inside. Well and good I would say.

But in our quest to find new meaning in an old custom we should also look at different ways of seeing the same thing. In the series of thoughts that we have already been introduced to, we then have to understand one more thought. This is the thought that we have to manage our waste and purify the environment rather than only concentrating on wasting ourselves and thereby purifying ourselves.

The place I come from in Kerala is called Thiruvalla. It is a semi village, semi town which comes under the control of the municipality. In the past twenty years or so, with the changing scenario in the state, as in other parts of the country, and also due to liberalisation and globalisation, numerous changes have come about to the landscape. One of the greatest changes is the huge piles of waste that adorn different parts of the town. The stench coming from this along with the flies pose a health risk to the inhabitants of the town. Add to this the pollution of the water table and what we have is a time bomb right underneath the town. This could be due to several factors.

1. Less space for more people- Due to migration of people from villages and other places, people find themselves staring at a reality of less space in which they are cramped into a certain way of life.
2. A culture of spending- The easy instalments lure and the loans for A-Z have led to a culture of spending on things which are supposed to make our life easy. These are then thrown after use to make space for new models.
3. The proliferation of plastic- Plastic has done what we thought nuclear bombs would do. Silently though powerfully, it has invaded every inch of space and thereby led to adulteration of the soil.
4. Lack of public interest- The struggle to keep up the 9-5 job and the ‘I am not bothered igloo life’ has led to commerce taking over humankind. People don’t have the time or the energy to protest what is happening.
5. Corruption in public office- Maybe we expect too much from politicians and leaders. They are after all only humans like us. Corruption just gets bigger and uglier and money decides and not the people.

When this is what we are facing, our task has to be redefined and reconstituted. Instead of wasting ourselves we have to look at how we can manage the waste we are producing. Can we decrease this, can we say no to plastic, can we take care of most of the waste we produce? Today a few concerned citizens of the town, both men and women are getting together to protest the apathy of the municipality in the management of waste. It is a meaningful protest at a meaningful time. Truly, they are the ones who are making this lent meaningful and worthwhile. Hope the church can also finally free itself from self purification and help in the purification of all.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Slowing down during the great fast

Fasting and controlling one’s diet in all religious traditions is not only a way to appease the God’s and get our individual desires fulfilled but also to evaluate as to where we are going and what we are doing. In this sense we would have to look at our lives and the world we live in and analyse them individually and in tandem.

One of the things that would emerge from such an analysis is the fast way of life that has crept into our scheme of existence. It is not just about the fast bikes and cars, but the whole way of how we look at life itself. Every innovation and invention helps to make life faster and faster. Computer games take us into the level of a speedy, crazy and dangerous virtual reality and prepare us to convert this excitement into the real thing by then using it in our real life settings.

Everything that we have to live with is in this sense fast and furious. We don’t have time to meet each other in person and so we text people and call them on the phone. With the next generation 3G services being offered by phone companies we can even see each other through streamlined video. Everything is brought to the convenience of the screen. We watch beautiful places through the screen because we don’t have the time and patience to go there in person. Our screen then becomes another symbol of our super duper life where time and tide wait for no one.

As our lives are transformed, the products of entertainment follow suit and sometimes even set the trend. Such a product is the 20-20 cricket league which has been such a huge success in India and kicks off it’s second edition in a month’s time. The justification for such a format is that people don’t have time and therefore we should compress things and offer it in a capsule of entertainment with images that will make them glued to the presentation. The game should be so fast that it should be over before we realise it.

But how long can we keep up with the fast and furious talk? After the first 20-20 match of the Indian cricket team’s tour to New Zealand, Dhoni, the Indian captain, was seen telling his team mates that one should also show patience as even twenty overs is a long time. One can’t think that every ball can be hit out of the stadium. It was quite a bit of a revelation from the captain. Wonder if the poster boys of Indian cricket got the point! And even more, wonder whether those sucked in by the 20-20 hysteria got the essence of the 'slow' comment.

The words fasting and fast for me thus refer to something else. It sounds as if we are preparing to be faster and more aggressive in our lives when the essence of a preparation should be to rather slow down and examine our lives and enjoy what the world has to offer. In that sense I would like to say that I am slowing down and not fasting!

(Image from