BE THE LIGHT OR BE IN THE LIMELIGHT?

Jesus told His disciples that they were the salt and light of the world. The similarity between salt and light is that both create an impact, wherever they are placed, but become inconsequential in so doing. They have to lose themselves in order to cause any difference to their surroundings.

Salt is well-defined in substance and is felt rather than seen or identified as such. It is often quite easy to comprehend being the salt of the earth, for its role is well-defined and its boundary marked.

To be the light, however, needs a clear understanding of purpose, priority and pose. The purpose of light is not to draw attention to itself, but to bring in to sharp relief what is hidden in the shadows. The priority of light is to shed its illumination so that what is not seen becomes uncovered and exposed. The pose of light is to dispel darkness and impart comfort in visibility.

The issue in being the light is that we often confuse it with being in the limelight. Most often it is construed that to fulfil the role of being a light, one needs to have exposure and elevation. We think that when Jesus said that no one lights a lamp and puts it under the bed, but on a lampstand, it means being placed in a position of prominence. We assume that when He said that a city in a hill cannot be hid, that advancement is needed for influence. We decide that to be a force to create a ripple, one must be placed in positions and posts of visibility.

The good news is that to be the light one doesn’t need authority or power or control. Light, by its very nature, will alter its surroundings and empower all around. So also in this dark world, you don’t need special recognition or position, because being the light talks about conduct not position. Jesus said Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.

Being the light is to draw attention to God and elevate Him so others can reach the safety of His presence. All you need to do is just shine in the darkness so that others can see and be helped.

Light is basically energy that will do a work, viz. destroy darkness, irrespective of where it is found or placed. Coupled with the sense of sight, light is a primary tool for perceiving the world and communicating within it. A tool will serve its purpose for whatever it is created to do, irrespective of its circumstances.

Light can be ensconced in a humble lantern or beam out of a mighty lighthouse, yet however and wherever it is placed it will cause a change in it’s surroundings. So also it doesn’t matter who you are and where you are placed. Just be the light and do the work of light – clear out darkness.

Light, like salt, has to disperse itself into the medium to accomplish its work and fulfil its task. So also be willing to be unknown as you actively fulfil God’s mandate in life. The One Who created you acknowledges and appreciates you being the light. Those around you know the role you play in their lives and will appreciate and thank God for you.

Do not fret that you are not in the limelight, for you are in good company. The stalwarts of faith, Elijah, John the Baptist, Simeon, Anna, Ananias who baptized Paul, etc were all people who had no visibility or position. Yet God saw them and recognized them in His graces.

The greatest example of light, Jesus Christ, lived unknown for thirty years in the quietness of a middle eastern hamlet. He Who came to be the Savior of the world and the greatest Man to live on planet earth, lived in obscurity and invisibility for about 80% of his life.

If you are one who lives a hidden life, unknown and unsung, remember you are in good company – in the company of the Son of God!

Continue to be the light without worrying or fretting that you are not in the limelight!

Being the light is not synonymous with being in the limelight!

*Pic courtesy unsplash.com and google images

BEING & BECOMING THE SALT OF THE EARTH

Jesus told his disciples that they were salt and light of the world.

The similarity between salt and light is that both create an impact, wherever they are placed.

They both diffuse and disperse themselves into the medium they are placed to add (flavour and illumination) to their surroundings. Both dispel something (tastelessness and darkness) through their influence on the environment. Both do not draw attention to themselves, but are known by the effect they create, viz. taste and sight.

The difference between them is that salt needs to melt away into oblivion, its substance never evident but felt. Light, on the other hand, needs to be lifted up to be evident to all, if it is to bring sight and comfort all around.

Salt has the ability to combine everything together into a cohesive whole, while light by nature separates everything into two different entities.

Jesus said that if salt loses its saltiness (its nature) it is only fit to be thrown in the dunghill because it has lost its ability and nature to cause change.

Similarly, He said that a lamp is not lighted to be put under a bowl (covering), but is kept on a stand to be true to its nature (to illuminate). In other words, light becomes useless when it is not placed in a position from where it can be seen.

For a lamp to be in placed on a stand means to be placed in a position that will facilitate and help it do its work, viz. to illuminate and make bright. Only if the way is made for its brightness to be seen can light dispel darkness and bring into sharp relief the things that are hidden.

In our walk with Christ, there are different seasons in life wherein we alternate as salt and light. There will be times when we are hidden away with no one even being aware of us. We will be doing our work and influencing others in quietness, without publicity or fanfare. It is easy to be light, to be seen and acknowledged, but hard to be salt, unknown and unsung!

Salt purifies and preserves, but in so doing, has to lose itself. To be salt is to be felt and often not known or acknowledged. You will be needed but not maybe appreciated or thanked, just taken for granted. No one places or levate to a place of prominence, though it is valued and stored as being essential to life.

So also you maybe taken for granted or unacknowledged, but take heart. Do not fret at such times, just continue doing what you do, for Heaven sees what you do, even if men do not or acknowledge not!

You are in good company for many of the prophets began in hiding before they were know. John the Baptist was n the wilderness many years before he came on the scene. Elijah suddenly appears on the national scene to confront the king. family, before being recognized and anointed as King by Samuel, lived in quietness with the sheep, the youngest and considered the most insignificant of his family. We have no idea of the depth and background of Ananias who anointed Saul (who later became Paul) and yet he had the privilege of bringing healing to one of the great apostles of all times, the Apostle of the Gentiles!

Jesus Himself was unknown until He was baptized in the Jordan and was identified as the Lamb of God by John the Baptist. Thirty years He lived in obscurity, without doing doing a miracle, preaching a sermon or having any followers. In fact, His brothers did not acknowledge or accept Him His ministry and He was rejected by His own townsmen.

Yet Heaven noted His progress and watched over His growth. The Bible says He grew in stature, gaining face with God and man. He did not walk in arrogance as Son of God, but humbly behaved as Son of Man, learning the lessons God put Him through, fighting His battles over sin in secret, ‘learning obedience by the things He suffered’ and was shaped as the perfect vessel that brought salvation to all in the fires of loneliness and in the crucible of affliction.

If you are one who is hidden and unknown, do not fret but take courage. You are known and your worth is recognised not on earth by in heaven and by heaven.

If you are in a season of obscurity, seemingly forgotten, placed on the shelf and hidden away, do not lose heart. Many a prophet was formed and forged in the backside of the desert before brought into the open, like Moses.

Strengthen yourself with the realization that God knows our address and is privy to all we go through in secret. He is aware of our tears and bottles them up as precious.

Remember certain flowers open only in the night and are often ignored, though the perfume the night with their pleasant scent. They bloom and bless wherever they are because that’s the place and time ordained for them by their Creator!

If you are in the season of being salt, rest secure in the thought that God knows where you and what you do. He understands and appreciates who you are, considering who you are and what you do precious.

Be the salt of the earth, influencing the world around, in quiet confidence and gentle blessedness!

*Pic from unsplash.com and google images

SHIFT GEARS – LEARNING TO DRIVE ON DIFFERENT TERRAIN

In the Bible, in the history of the nation of Israel, there are two distinct phases of life and distinct ways of existence.

One, while in the wilderness, after being delivered from slavery in Egypt and two, when they settled down in the promised land, after driving out those who lived there.

The difference between these two seasons of life was the way in which He provided for them and the manner by which He met their needs! 

God was their Source and Guide, not just in the wilderness, but also in the land of their settlement.

Between these two ways of life, between their nomadic lifestyle and their settled state, there lies a difference. In what was uncharted territory for them, their needs were met day by day, as the need arose and when the moment arrived, neither early or late but on time, supernaturally. In the permanency of settled land, their needs were met in a year-by-year/life of seasons, an ordered cycle and pattern of living befitting a stationary way of being. 

Settlement is marked by a regular, predictable and sure way of existence with a natural rhythm of life, whereas wilderness walk is always marked by uncertainty, monotony and anxiety. It is a totally different, unusual and other way of life and living.

Wilderness is a place of simple fare, just-what-is-needed-for-the-day supply, deficient of variety and with just sufficient provision-for-the-day being the only guarantee!

Desert drive or wilderness walking could be a place of trials, traversing an unknown terrain and facing an unfamiliar way of life!

In these COVID days and in the aftermath of the quarantine days, we have moved from a predictable cycle of life to not knowing what tomorrow brings. We have moved from certainty to uncertainty, from variety of choices to a modicum of monotony and from sedentary placidity to unexpected changes and challenges. It is time to understand what stuff we are made up and gird ourselves to walk a new model of living.

We went through a season of financial constraint and had to depend on the supernatural provision, whenever and wherever the natural fell short! 

It is time for us to know, understand and accept that our seasons have changed. It is time for us to trust in God for everything and not depend on our regular sources/resources, but adapt to an unusual way of life!

It is time for us to explore and get used to unexplored vistas and different terrain!

It is time for us to shift gears and learn to drive anew and afresh!

DIG DITCHES!

In the Bible, an incident is reported where three kings come together to battle a fourth one and get stranded in a desert without adequate water supply. An entreaty is made to the prophet who is unexpectedly found in their midst, to petition God to save them and plead for a solution from Him. The prophet heeds their cry, prays to God and returns the answer “Dig ditches all over this dry stream bed. Even though you will not see any rain or wind, this stream bed will be filled with water, and you, your livestock, and your pack animals will have plenty to drink.” You can read the full report in 2 Kings 3:16‭-‬17 (GNB).

In a recent insightful article on the World Economic Forum website, Bill Gates talks of the possibility of a COVID vaccine being ready in an 18-month period. However, for it to be effectively administered, he astutely points out that governments need to plan and set in place the machinery and structure needed to mass produce and administer thousands of doses at the same time. He says that the time to prepare appropriate protocols and be ready with necessary infrastructure to handle for the influx, both of the medicine and patient treatments is now. In short, begin to dig ditches now, not when the flow begins!

An important natural cycle in Egypt since ancient times is the flooding of the river Nile. As rainfall is almost non-existent in Egypt, the floods provide the only source of moisture to sustain crops. Every year, heavy summer rain in the Ethiopian highlands send a torrent of water that overflows the banks of the Nile. When the floods go down, they leave behind a thick rich mud (black silt) which is excellent soil to plant seeds in after it has been ploughed. Though clueless in the very distant past, Egypt today has set in measures to monitor and prepare for this cycle of overflow and receding of the waters. The country has harnessed and turned a natural ‘disaster’ into a potential wealth and renewable resource for itself. Egypt has learnt to dig ditches!

As we go through this period of quarantine, we can so easily be caught up with the past, of how good we had it. Or, be preoccupied with the present because of all the reports and statistics as the pandemic runs its course in the city, nation or the world. Its okay to look back with nostalgia and keep abreast of the current happenings so as to be sensitive and well-informed, but if we do not at least consider the future, we will be doubly lost.

If we do not look ahead, but just be obssessed with these, we will waste our time lamenting or we will just wait for the day of release out of social distancing to rush headlong into another type of disaster. If we do not use this time wisely and profitably to plan for literally a new world – what we should do, how we should do, when we should do, etc – we would be clueless and caught unawares when that time dawns. We need to look to the future and plan for a new way of life. It is the time right now to dig ditches!

The ditch you may need to dig could be a plan on how to ease into a normal day-to-day routine; it maybe to understand how to handle the economic fallout or downturn that is inevitable; it maybe to prepare for the extra load that will ensue in the workplace as companies rush to catch up on business; it maybe the need to revamp investment or insurance portfolios that will surely need a change or upgrade; it may be knowing how to help kids and senior citizens transition back to normal life; it may be just learning to understand how members of the family, especially spouses, will react to the change.

It is not just governments and those in authority who need to be aware of and take notice of the future. Each and everyone of us – individuals, couples, families, companies, corporate firms and churches need to sit down and draw up a game plan for the time to come. Now is the occasion and the opportunity to do it, rather than later. Such an attitude will also help to boost our morale and well-being since we are looking ahead, rather than behind or around.

Dig ditches to be ready and prepared to conserve what will come or lose the overflow that is sure to come and is just ahead!

*https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/united-states-coronavirus-bill-gates

*http://www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk/egypt/nile.htm

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com and google images

EVERYTHING SET IN ORDER

I was recently in the northern part of the country which was reeling under a cold front. I had to wear a number of clothing and shoes to keep warm, both outdoors and indoors. Even then I wasn’t truly fully free of chillness until I got under the blankets with the heater on beside me. The sun’s warmth was available only for a few hours, from around 11 am to 4 pm, before the temperature dropped again.

Being from the sunny south, I would anxiously wait each day for the sun to appear so as stand under its heat. Even a very hot shower would raise the body temperature for only for a little while. Back home in the sunnier part of the country, I revelled in the warmth and the freedom from extra woollies. I am never going to worship the sun, but neither would I take it for granted anymore!

The anomaly of the region I visited is the extreme heat of the summer months contrasting the cold of its winter season. As I thought about this peculiarity, I realized that this contrast is surely the key to life being livable in that area. It is the extreme frigidity of the winter season that prepares the body for facing the extreme heat of the summer season and vice versa. The heat of the summer months warms the body to an extent that it is able to bear the chillness of the winter cold. How appropriate and fitting, I thought!

Following this train of thought, I realized that food, clothing, shelter and social as well as cultural cuatoms of a place are in most part in step with the climatic conditions of the area. For example, in the northern parts of India where chillness can be expected, the staple diet is wheat and bland subzies; whereas in the hotter southern parts, rice and spicy curries predominate. Wheat imparts heat to the body and rice provides coolness, making these the inescapable ingredient of the cuisines of the respective regions. Similarly, the blood in the body runs faster in cold regions and so a bland diet suffices. In hotter regions, spiciness in the diet will enhance the blood flow that tends to be slow due to the heat and thus will prevent the resultant lethargy from dominating.

Colder regions tend towards close fitting pant-type dress patterns as it affords protection from the chill winds that can run up the leg; whereas, in the hotter regions, loose flowing robes or sarongs or sarees provide the aeration that would give relief and prevent sweating in the intense heat. If you look closely, you can establish such connections even to the color and material existing in each area. Not just these alone, but also the flora and fauna available in each place are obviously in-sync with the weather conditions common to the sector.

Even the social life and cultural activities are commensurate with the weather prevalent in each area. The north includes more song and dance as integral part of its festivities – surely since the exercise will warm the body. The south, on the other hand, is more conservative and less expressive in action but more in emotive expressions as the heat surely discourages very rigorous exercise! This also may be the reason that the north is more militant than the south, since activity enhances their well-being and negotiations suit the health of the warm south!

What perfect order has been planned and executed by the Creator in each place to make life livable, enjoyable and sustainable in each place, area and region! Every time I note the intricacies of His design, I marvel at His wisdom that is exhibited even in the tiniest of details! God is not the God of chaos but of perfect order and arrangement. Nothing He does is out of focus, out of step or out of confusion. Even in the randomness of things, there is a pattern that enhances rather than detracts the beauty of it all! Perfect symphony is the hallmark of God’s handiwork, His id card actually! Even in chaos there is meaning as evidenced in His scattering that happened in the tower of Babel!

No wonder the Psalmist declares that The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. No wonder Paul the Apostle could echo that For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Living in harmony with our surroundings will ensure our wellness and well-being in every way, for there is a divine design incorporated into its makeup. Blaming circumstances or surroundings for any ill-health, physical or otherwise, will be a farce if in some way we are introducing disorder into our life and lifestyle. A check to see if we are violating the order set around us will enable us to ‘prosper and be in good health even as (y)our soul prospers‘!

*Pics courtesy in splash.com

CHRISTMESSY

My daughter, who is good at play writing, writes, directs and stages, along with her husband, a play for her church’s Christmas celebration every year. This year the title of the play was Christmessy and it portrayed how everything was truly a mess on that first Christmas.

Confusion reigned right from the very way Jesus was conceived (virgin birth), the confusion census that forced his parents travel to Bethlehem, the lack of accommodation there that made a stable his birthplace, the sudden appearance of supernatural beings to simple shepherds, the arrival of wise men from the east led by a star, the mayhem caused by Herod in his bid to kill a child who he feared would someday usurp his throne and to the resulting flight to Egypt.

You would think that when God sent His Son into the world as a baby, things would be in order and everything would go smoothly. Yet it was not so! The play’s concluding message was that God dramatically stepped into this world and invaded time to be part of a world that was not perfect, but in fact, quite messy!

The world we live in, as the world then was, is a mess. Just watch the news or read the daily paper or talk to someone. You would know that people, relationships, nations, events, nature and happenings all getting more and more topsy-turvy and muddled. There are no clear-cut guidelines or guardrails or reference points. There is tremendous chaos and confusion, with the life getting messier and messier.

Yet God chose to walk into the mess of old on that Christmas day as the Messiah, the One Who would deliver from all distress and disorder, both inward and outward. He did not come into a world of harmony and order, even though he created it to be so, but he came to bring restore order and work His creative miracle once again. He came the message of good tidings of great joy that He was giving us a second chance.

Today also, He is calling out to those who feel helplessly entangled in Cimmerian shadows to come to the light of His love and grace. Just as in the beginning when He sent light into the cosmic darkness and ruin, God sent His Son as the only true Light to dispel the Stygian blackness of sin and sickness of this world.

He, the babe born on that eventful day 2000 years ago, died on behalf of all mankind to pay the price for their freedom. He has given all the call to trust and believe in His sacrifice for sins. He stretches out His hand to all who are weary of the mess in their life or the mess they have made of their life. He is inviting each and everyone to become His child and live life under His care

He is coming back to be united with His family and be with them forever. He is coming back to bless all who follow Him with long life. He is coming back to judge the darkness for destroying the most beloved of His creation.

It is up to us to lean forward and grasp His hand to he raised from murky to stand stable on the rock. It is our choice to move from darkness to light, from bondage to freedom and from death to life everlasting.

Christmas is not about tinsel and tree, gifts and galas, turkey and biriyani, cakes and parties, etc. It is about God stepping into our mess, picking us from our messed up state and making us clean and free of that mess, forever!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com

PLAYING SAFE

In a TED talk Sir Ken Robinson, Author and Educator, points out to children being naturally creative but we educate them out of it. He goes on to explain through a story that children are not afraid of being wrong, of making a mistake. His take? You cannot be creative if you want to play safe, which is what we educate them to be. Kids stop being creative because we educate them to be safe!

How true, I thought to myself, that we want our children to be safe rather than being who they are meant to be! The words with which we bombard our children daily are: Don’t do that you will get hurt! Don’t touch that you will get hurt! Don’t jump from there you will get hurt!… We inculcate in our children a mentality of fear of hurt, that they learn to protect themselves, first! We teach and train them to play safe!

We inculcate in them a culture of fear and then when they grow up, we complain that they are not risk takers! We nurture cowardice rather than fearless experimentation, then we crib that they don’t achieve anything! We kill their creativity and then reject them for being mediocre! We train them to play safe and then target them for lacking talents or the will to challenge the norm! We program them to be afraid of taking up challenges, then weep when they commit suicide! We adapt them to being so afraid of social stigma that they fear to be pioneers and pathbreakers! We teach them to play safe when we should be training them to take risks and break routines!

We inculcate a horror of being a stand-alone that they are afraid to break the mold to walk in freedom! We have boxed them with our insecurities rather than teaching them to think outside-the-box! We make them mindless robots sticking strictly to routine rather than imaginative researchers who delight to explore! We have cut their sprouting wings making them chickens rather than eagles that were born to fly. We want them to play safe around our feet rather than fly high and far and wide!

We need to blame ourselves for their lack of enterprise, for we have fostered in them a culture of education rather than an OS of adventurous creativity!

Don’t get me wrong, for I am not talking of lawless breaking of rules nor being a rebel of society. I am advocating instruction in ingenuity and creativity rather than confining safety!

If Edison had worried about playing safe, he wouldn’t have invented the electric bulb after ninety-nine failed attempts! Every inventor and explorer battled adversity before achieving their goal. We who laud their fulfillment forget that self-actualizing success doesn’t attract the fickle-minded but the beautifully bold!

I think of the One Who set the example the most by being unconventional and unorthodox. – Jesus Christ the Champion of the marginalized! He went about getting the captives free by tearing down confining walls, breaking out of boxing fetishes, challenging the norm and the normal. In His bid for freedom to all, He consistently broke down barriers, went past social stigmas and ruthlessly beat down the opposition as a true Liberator. Je ended up on the cross because He refused to play safe!

He never bothered being under attack for being singular, but even taught His followers to be so by life and example. His one word to the one disciple wanting to step out of the boat was a simple ‘come’. He encouraged Peter in his impetus impulse rather than stop him from adventuring into the unknown. The One Whose Word lists 365 fear-nots, one for every day, gave his apprentice a lesson in boldness. On the strength of His word, Peter walked in the water that day, experiencing a thrill that no one before or after him had, singling and signalling him to be a leader. Real leadership crowns the atypical rather than the fainthearted or those playing safe!

Paeidia, from which comes the English word Encyclopedia, is the Greek word for education. Paeidia should be to fit our children for what they have been created to be, fitted for and equipped to accomplish rather than teaching them to fear. Life should be taught as being a gift of, in and for exploration and adventure!

Education or Paeidia should be for instruction in self-actualizing rather than in playing safe!

*Thanks to lauren lulu taylor for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/vppMdk_GMo4

*TED talk link https://www.facebook.com/TED/videos/10162300976450652/

KISMET

“When the man met the woman of his dreams, he said it was kismet. ” “Perhaps it was kismet Jim won the lottery right after he lost his job.”  “If kismet does not interfere and allow someone to see the smoke signal, the injured man will die in the freezing canyon.” “So this is your fate destiny kismet you must rise up to it because no one else can take this job.” You have probably heard of such sentiments or read such statements .

The Urban Dictionary says: The word Kismet is of foreign origin and is used in Turkish, Urdu, Hindi and Arabic. In Hindi it means “fate” or “destiny” and the meaning is exactly the same in English. So instead of saying, “it is fate”, you could say “it is kismet“. According to Merriam-Webster, Kismet’ comes from the Arabic word ‘qisma’, which means “portion” or “lot.” Kismet was borrowed into English in the early 1800s from Turkish, where it was used as a synonym of fate. This was an expansion on the meaning of the original Arabic word qisma that led to kismet and one early 18th-century bilingual dictionary says it’s a synonym of “fragment.”

Kalyan Kumar, Vice-president of Human Resources at India Uniper, opines that ‘we often tend to view the word Karma through the prism of Kismet, or fate or destiny. Fundamentally, the roots of these two terms, namely, Karma and Kismet, are from entirely different cultural moorings. The word Karma is native to the Indic civilization, and is common to all of the spiritual traditions that were spawned by the Indic civilization. Kismet has its roots in the Semitic middle east, more specifically in Islam.’ According to him, ‘Karma is much more than Fate, Destiny or Kismet. The term Kismet or Destiny is in common man’s parlance that God alone determines everything. He is the creator, mover as well as the final judge! In the Karmic world on the other hand the doer alone is responsible for all the consequences arising out his actions. Karma by its very intent makes one responsible for one’s actions as well as its attendant consequences.’

In my South Indian dialect of Tamil, one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world, the word often used to explain the inconsequential happenings of life is ‘vidhi’ – It is all her vidhi that these things happened to her. Vidhi is explained as fate, which is written on the head, and is used both positively and negatively, to deal with the unexplainable incidents of living and being.

The negative connotation of the word often results in a fatalistic and simplistic acceptance of negative conditions or circumstances found in someone’s life. It produces a passivity that accepts, with a dejected finality, even what could, with a little more will and effort, be surmounted and overcome. It is the root cause of a defeatist mentality and frequently, the impulse and impetus for suicide and self-immolation.

The positive nuance of the word, on the other hand, recently struck me as being such a help to accept what cannot be undone or unmade. It assists in tiding over the sense of defeat at the missed opportunities, lends comfort when feeling loss at the lapse of time and acts as balm to the deep grief felt for what could have been. It provides the stimulus for a positive and constructive outlook and produces a beneficial and effective attitude. A posture of acceptance and compliance is then birthed, helping to release a free flow of forgiveness. Rather than fostering negative emotions of resentment, rancour and revenge that fester into unforgiveness, it assuages the emotions of antipathy and hostility .

Able to say to the guilty, ‘it is okay, it is just vidhi (or kismet), helps pave the way for bridging the gap betrayal has created and promote relationship by offering the olive branch over the hurdle of hurt. It can create a conducive atmosphere to accept the offender, foster an understanding of the offender and enable an acceptance of the delinquent. It can also prepare the wounded and the offended to receive the one who has wronged and deceived them. It will help to view those who are especially overwhelmed by the enormity of their action or inaction and overcome by the consequences of their participation or abstinence, with the right attitude of clemency and mercy. At the end, it would help offer pardon to those who are overpowered by the guilt of their commission or omission and a way out of defeat into dignity.

The victim would be able to rise above petty feelings of retribution and recrimination to heights of nobility in thought and attitude towards the perpetrator. It would relieve the aggrieved party of rages and grudges, ensuring well-being rather than ill-health born of harboring negative emotions. Forgiveness and reconciliation are powerful restoratives of wholesomeness, both to the injured and the assailant.

It is not that the former deny or sweep away the effects of the crime or violation, but are able to put it aside and move on. It is not that they condone or gloss over the crime, but are enabled to bear with the culprit. It is not that they overlook or just condemn the transgression, but are endued with the ability to bear with the transgressor. They are powerfully motivated to not linger in or camp around the hurt, but start the process of rising phoenix-like from the ashes of their disappointment and distress to new life and being.

May be this seems to be a cop out or a denial or a disassociation, but I see it more as a coping mechanism that enables health and healing on both sides. It actually helps to come to terms with the issue, grapple with its impacts and move on to a virtuous frame of mind. Instead of squatting around wasteful emotions that tear at the soul, fracture the mind and destroy the physique, it helps build on a negative situation and utilize ‘what was meant to be evil’ to become a success, a strength and, in the end, a triumph of the spirit over animal instincts!

In today’s parlace, the word kismet conjures up pictures of a musical, a movie, a computer progam or a company, but in real life it is a lodestar of treasure. In truth, kismet or qismat in Persion, as in the story of Rumpelstiltskin, spins gold out of straw, converts dung into fuel and transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary and other worldly. Like the waves wiping smooth the ruffled sand, it smoothes the wrinkles of life and levitates normal human beings to be more like and closer to the Creator, Who causes the sun to shine and rain to fall on both the good and bad. Not surprising, since, by definition, Kismet is being sure that God is Sovereign over all and that you are under His rule!

* Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash
* https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/karma-kismet-same-kalyan-kumar/

FOR WANT OF A NAIL

Saturday 20th of July 2019 America celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Aldrin set foot on the Moon nineteen minutes after Armstrong first touched the surface while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit. Armstrong had the privilege of being known as the first man on the moon, Aldrin as the first astronaut with a doctoral degree and the first person to hold a religious ceremony on the Moon when he privately took communion, while Collins remains oft-forgotten and not as well-known as the other two.

NEIL ARMSTRONG MICHAEL COLLINS BUZZ ALDRIN

Armstrong was commander of Apollo 11, Aldrin was the lunar module pilot and Michael Collins command module pilot. Therefore, Collins stayed behind in lunar orbit. Aldrin was placed opposite side to the opening hatch and so to get out first, it would have been necessary “for one bulky-suited, back-packed astronaut to climb over another,” NASA wrote. Armstrong, the commander of Apollo 11, was nearest to the opening and so was chosen to be the first one on the moon. The mission was a success because each one took the position given to them and did their individual parts with care and commitment. The goal of man reaching the moon had to take and did take precedence and priority over individual preferences, desires or aspirations.

In India, in its rural areas and villages, the rustic bullock cart held and still holds a position of importance for its utility in transporting goods and people. The most crucial part of the cart is not the animals, or the superstructure or even the driver. Important though each of these are, they are less critical than a small nail that’s the pivot fixing the wheel and the superstructure as one. In races, all that a rival or adversary would need to do, is just quietly slide it out and slip away. The nail’s absence is not even felt or seen until the cart starts moving a distance as at first no change in perceptible. A short time later, the whole thing will collapse, throwing violently its occupants and causing great damage depending on the speed of the cart.

“For Want of a Nail” is a popular nursery rhyme and proverb, dating back to the 14th century. 

So also, in life, there are those who seem to be insignificant and invisible, but oh so critical and essential to a task or project. In a team, everyone, small or big,visible or invisible, recognized or not have their own role and contribution to make. A wise leader will always acknowledge even ‘the least of these’ though outsiders may not. Everyone is important for the total success of the project.

As the Apostle Paul admonished the Christians in Rome, Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you (Bible, book of Romans 12:3).If Collins had not remained in orbit, the other two wouldn’t have been able to return to the earth. Remember they were part of Apollo 11 mission, meaning that there were several missions that had been attempted before this one succeeded. Every step of a stairway is needed to reach the top.

Let’s never forget that it was just a nail that sealed the fate of a Kingdom!

*Photos: By NASA – NASA Human Space Flight Gallery (image link), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=102412*Photos: http://www.alamy.com, https://images.app.goo.gl/AHkbqH8AUV1qByHi6

BEING THE LEAD DOG

In the Arctic areas, dog sleds have been traditionally in use for transportation, hauling supplies in areas inaccessible by other methods and in the explorations of the Arctics. Sled dog teams delivered mail to rural communities in Alaska and northern Canada and even today are being used by some rural communities, especially in areas of Alaska and Canada and throughout Greenland. They are also used for recreational purposes and racing events, such as the Iditarod Trail and the Yukon Quest.

The most critical part of the team, lead dogs set the pace and keep the other dogs on the trail. They are the dogs that respond to the musher’s commands of “gee” (right turn) and “haw” (left turn). Lead dogs must be alert and intelligent so they can find and follow the trail when it is covered over with snow. They do so through smell, sensing where other teams have passed, and feel, by feeling with their feet the packed trail beneath the loose snow covering. They also keep the other dogs in the team moving by pulling the gangline taut. Some dogs make better leaders in certain weather conditions but not others.

Being a leader rests not just on the ability to lead, but also on how well you can lead, especially in times of crises. Leader is one who leads by example and has the boldness to tell others, follow me. A leader by profession is different and distinct from one who is by instinct and by nature. The former does it for a season, for a time period, at certain places, because he/she has been given or placed in a position and for a compensation. The latter is a leader, wherever, whenever, always, irrespective of whether they are given or placed in a position and granted a wage or reward. Such a person will not abandon ship nor throw in the towel, but will rather forfeit their own benefits and prioritize the interest of the whole team. These are gems, stars that shine clear and bright, rare indeed is their kind!

Leaders, who lead just because they are one, don’t look for position nor vie for it, but do what they have to do just because of who they are. They lead on and by the authority of their nature or character, rather than by the power and authority of a position, or by rules and regulations or even a following. They are far removed from petty power struggles and fighting for their rights as they are secure in who they basically are and what they are destined to do. Such leadership, though normally intrinsic and inborn, can of course be learnt and acquired, if the basic principle involved here is understood. In such a kind of leading and mentoring, being (character, nature) supersedes demanding, talking, instructing, commanding or even doing. Here the power of leadership exists in the person and in who they are rather than what they do, by virtue of an endless life than of action. This is the secret behind the seeming reason for their security in the face of adversity or opposition or even rejection.

A leader of influence needs to understand the power of non-verbal impartation over verbal communication. A simple short movie done some years ago for a competition portrayed the progress of a yawn around a group of people. One person yawning set a series of yawns that traveled quite a distance around the area. Such is the power of example and existence! Impartation is a powerful aspect of leadership that is often neglected in favor of verbal use or abuse. If you want people to follow you even when you suggest the most outrageous risks and undertakings, learn to concentrate on growing and improving who you are, rather than what you do. Do not use camouflage or subterfuge to mask your inadequacies, but learn to be transparent and forthcoming. I often listen to Indra Nooyi, not because of her position, but more because I can see that what she says is who she is. She is not mouthing fancy words or clichés because she has to, but because she has practiced what she is articulating.


A leader cannot lead his/her people beyond who he/she is or what he can do and how far he has grown.  That’s why for your leadership to be sustainable or sustained, put efforts into improving who you are through some study or training and being mentored. Actually, a leader who is not being led cannot lead others, for he is not accountable, learning or improving. A true leader will seek counsel and advice to grow, consistently expand his/her horizons, continuously develop lateral skills and constantly supplement his/her own capabilities. Such person will always be a student so as to function effectively as teacher and leader. Life with or under such a person will be a roller-coaster of adventure as they are never static and set in their ways, but dynamic and ever self-actualizing in every instance.

I love that the Bible talks about Jesus, the greatest leader who led by example, as someone who ‘began to do and teach’. Any follower of this greatest teacher and rabbi of all times who led by example and see the impact as well as reach that He has had for and on generations, will not hesitate to emulate it.

Everything you say or do as a leader will be colored and coded by who you are. The context of your words will be the content of your life and the consequence of your being, rather than the cosmetic or costume of your appearance. Even though these latter do play a part in presentation, the completeness of your self will unconsciously compliment and complement as well as complete the core of your communication and determine as well as decide the success of it. If your being doesn’t back up your doing or your saying, people will accept you or your commands because they have to and not because they want to! By virtue of their position under you, they will honor you, but once out from under it, will despise or demean you. Such leadership doesn’t last or impact with dignity, but will have to be maintained through deceit, coercion and compulsion rather thriving on willing eager submission. Leadership then becomes a burden and a duty rather than an endless delight and a compelling mission.

Be a leader before demanding or commanding as a leader!

* Photo by James Padolsey on Unsplash and Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

*Information on dogsleds from https://iditarodoutsider.wordpress.com/tag/sled-dog-positions/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sled_dog