Saturday, June 20, 2015

Living Lent

     Why would Jesus love kids? I never tried to understand until this happened. Ever since Claire was born, my wife and I had made it a point to keep talking to her about Jesus and the bible. We knew that one day she would understand. Little did I know Jesus’ plan for me. It was me who needed to know something very profound. Just after she turned 3 in 2014, we visited the Lourdes shrine at Litchfield. She had for the first time realized that Jesus had died on Good Friday and risen up on Easter Sunday and she had a number of questions about it. After the liturgy, I took Claire on top of the hillock where the 14 stations of cross are set up. My wife, who was pregnant with Noah, stayed back. At each station, I explained what happened to Jesus. She kept asking me if the other men in the statues were “bad men”. I kept telling her what I knew and how many people did not understand Jesus when he was alive. Finally, we reached the twelfth station where Jesus gave up his breath on the cross and at his feet Mother Mary was weeping and was with John, his disciple. I asked Claire to say a small prayer. My wife had taught her to say a personal prayer everyday for some time now and she was always spontaneous and honest. She said “Dear Jesus, Forgive me for doing this. I will not do it again”. I was shocked. When all of us were pointing fingers accusing others of a bad deed, a 3 year old had owned up and asked forgiveness in a very simple way. A teaching moment had just become a learning moment for me. What astonished me was the beautiful bond Claire had formed with Christ that she could spontaneously speak to him like she did. I sincerely wish we could do the same. I recollect one of my favorite teacher, Rex D'Souza telling us not to point a finger at somebody because the other four fingers would be pointed towards oneself. I pray that although it is hard for us to own up our sins against Jesus, and that in our deeds, we keep sacrificing him time and again, it's never too late to change.  To me Lent had changed that moment. Through Claire, Jesus had taught me to be part of it.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Little Claire and Dad's best moment

     I have to share this moment with as many people as I can, because this was the most profound moments of my life so far. And I dare say I have had so many. And I thank GOD for each one of them. For a long long time, probably ever since I have known this as a child, I have never understood why people hate other people so much as to persecute them. And in the past couple of years, especially since the arab spring, it has been so heart wrenching for me to hear about how man has gone about killing others of his own kind and there haven’t been anybody to stop this. It has affected me more because I think about the future of my little kids and deep in my heart, as every other dad and mom want, want a world for them that is safe and beautiful, filled with joy and peace. And I am petrified by what is happening not only far away from home, but also by incidents close by.
     And it is in this background, my 4 year old daughter gave me this amazing and touching experience that left me speechless. On that day, she had graduated from pre-k3 and we had been to school for a small ceremony and to say goodbye to friends and teachers for the summer. It had been her first year at school and I didn’t know how she would react. Would she be extremely emotional or would she not understand? This kept running in my mind. And for the next 3 months, I wondered how I could help her overcome this void of not having her friends and teachers that she had become so close. In the evening, I took her to her gym class and she was very happy doing all those fun exercises. She seemed normal and the day seemed like any other. And after the class, we jumped into the car to go and get mommy from work. It was going to be a 15 minute ride through a scenic route and I thought that as usual she would just take a nap as I drove that way.
      And as I started to drive and little Noah took his nap, Claire spoke. “ Dad, I want to tell you something”. I said, “ What is it Claire?”   “ Dad, I love everybody who loves me….and everybody in America.” “ That’s wonderful, Claire”. “ And dad, I love everybody from other countries too”. And I thought she was trying to compensate for her grandparents and other family back in India. So, I said “ That’s still wonderful, Claire”. And she continued… “ And I love my daddy and mommy and baby brother”. “We love you too, Claire”. “ But, dad, I also love those who don’t like me. I will love those who will scream at me. I will love those who hit me”. Now, that suddenly gave me goose bumps. I had tears in my eyes. I started thinking of why she was saying all this. Did something happen to her? Did anybody hit her or scream at her and I didn’t know? But, I would have known. Claire would have definitely told me. She was a 4 year old with no secrets. And after a small pause I asked her gently, “ Claire, why are you saying these things”.  “ Because dad, I want to love everybody. I want everyone to know that. Jesus told me so. He died on the cross for us and he still loved everybody. He didn’t run away. He happily died on the cross. Dad, I love Jesus”.
     These words were so profound, so touching, I could only be silent. And I only wished each one of us, including me could keep saying that. And little Claire had said it in such simple words, without any provocation, without any hesitation. I had no hesitation, but to thank GOD for this moment. I knew he was speaking to me through her. And he wants everyone to know this through me. I am a proud father and still I have to ensure and acknowledge how beautifully GOD speaks to us. Thank GOD, I listened to you through what Claire said. Amen.