On Choosing Life

“Look to the prism”, he said “The pendulum, dangling over the window, capturing the sun’s rays and dispersing light all over the room. Each smooth surface casts its own refracted ray to tell some story and adding colour to the walls.” 

 I looked to  the colours on one side, the profusion of colour evoking strong images of heroes, princes and successful individuals that did once bestride the world stage. Limited only by their imagination and the strength of their endeavour, some created empires, some magnificent cities, while some built magnificent pleasure domes – grandeur  that captivated the world in wonder. Their stature was measured by the wealth in their vaults and the level of ostentation. Yet, when done, their time of pomp and pleasure slipped and passed away. For instance, one died of a common fever in a distant land. Another was felled by swords that once made him great, and could even have made him emperor. One passed his last days, in near blindness, his eyes turned towards the world’s most magnificent building that he had constructed. Recently, one who would be Fuhrer,  died underground in a hole, of self-inflicted injuries. The list is legion. Like commoners, they too were reduced to pinches of sand as they slipped through the maker’s hourglass, down on to an anonymous heap. They had chosen to be great.  

The opposite wall I found is bathed with lighter hues of blue – tranquility marks the mood. The protagonists are more at peace with their surrounds. The lion sleeps with the lamb. Man and woman move unhindered by outward trappings, fashions or ornamentation. Every plant, unblemished, yields proper fruit at the proper season. The streams are full of fish, and meander, irrigating rich fields on their way down to a sun-filled sea. Sounds of animals and birds fill the air with sweet harmony; not a discordant note, no cacophony. This is life as it was meant to be.

Again I hear the voice. It asks, “ What will you choose, splendour and power for the day, or do you choose life that gives joy for ever? I say to you choose Life. But the choice must be yours, for the Father so wills it.”  

On Synchronising With Scriptures

Sometimes a passage (like Matt 7:1-5 today) causes one to pause and consider. We have heard the call to prayer, and readings from the pulpit/lectern a thousand times. The preaching, with variations, has been, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged”. Today, it became an instruction for active discipleship, “ first take out the log from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.”How contrary it sounds in today’s static on the airwaves!

Everyone strives above the din to call a neighbour to be “accountable” for some perceived act of delinquency. In our smug self-righteousness, we want the other to take “responsibility”, when we ourselves are quick to disclaim responsibility for our own, attitudes and actions. When it comes to ourselves, it is always, “The serpent made me eat it”. Indeed it is part of that original sin. How we blame the government, establishments, even our DNA, for decisions and acts we commit of our own volitions. 

We begin to wonder at the relevance of the call for us to be perfect as the Father is perfect. We continue on chosen trajectories like wanton kids, absorbed with curiosity about the boundaries of ethics, social behaviour and our sexual affirmations. Does one have to wear pencil line trousers or flares; skinny shorts or frayed denims; or follow some fixed genre of music, to be mod and in step with “things”? Is it fashionable to hold particular social or political positions? How conformist do we need to be to be considered non-conformist? It does seem to be an overwhelming preoccupation with things trivial, while quickly pointing to people who love the simple old fashioned things like respect, congeniality, and faithfulness to an ethical code.

I feel like an anachronism, committed, and to some, very Boring. Unfortunately, I  too have meandered among loosely bound Christians. For instance, I considered it a cultural imperative to take my children for Baptism. Upon their reaching the age of reason the formalities of the sacraments of initiation too were duly completed. Christmas and Easter became great celebrations to honour consumerism, with little place for their religious significance. Thus, I missed the calls of the prophets and the psalmists, to teach my children about the faith and the law. By sending them to Catholic schools, I made those institutions “responsible” to teach and instruct – holding them “accountable”. Grudgingly, I now see the log in my own eye. I pray that discipleship will follow.