Advent birthdays are fun as it is a season of hope and I have big hopes for the coming year 🙂
Each year is a piece of puzzle that completes the picture of life and birthdays are a reminder of this life given to us. It is a time to celebrate our mothers and fathers and each person that has influenced our growth in the past years. So, with a heart brimming with gratitude, thank you amma and appa for this beautiful life and thank you Uday and Karthik for bringing meaning to life!
The past year for me has been a year of enormous growth, a year of faith, a year of change and a year of hope. This year I lost one of my grandfathers and I am thankful for his life and that he did not have to endure more pain. This year reminded me that our loved ones are not immortal and life sometimes has a serious sense of humour and lets us smile through the pain. Pain that makes us stronger and I learned that we have too little time on earth so it is important to love and to be peaceful. This year also helped me become a better friend and l have to tell you that I have some amazing friends!
I believe that birthdays are a reason to smile at the year gone by and embrace the new year with an open heart. My hope is that I become a better person each day and that my faith grows with love.
Today is Children’s Day in India. We all are aware of the amazing grace children have. They are blessed with unconditional grace to laugh open-heartedly, cry and scream with a passion, run fearlessly, pray with sincerity and love with a pure heart. Children have hearts that speak the truth and minds that follow their heart. They are already born with a mind to think which some people fail to understand. As Khaled Hosseini said, “Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors”. As adults, our responsibility is to teach them to think, to question and to say no to people who hurt them. Sometimes, we overwhelm our children with excess love that we hold them back from reality.
I could write pages about how to love a child. I could also write pages about how people hurt children. According to the World Health Organization report on child abuse, approximately 20% of women and 5–10% of men report being sexually abused as children, while 25–50% of all children report being physically abused. A recent research in India has shown that as many as 53 per cent, or one in every two children, are victims of child sexual abuse. Sadly, many children are scarred for lives because of adults who strip their respect, dignity and their joy of life. In addition to educating children and encouraging them to be brave enough to say No to abuse, we need to be sensitive, vigilant and attentive to their little whispers of pain and signs of abuse.
When I asked Karthik (our three year old son), what love is, he once said that “love is like coffee…because you love coffee and you love me”. A child is born with enough love to teach us to love. And love for them is not about the most expensive toy you can buy but it is about teaching them to love life and to care for others. Let us love to love and be strong advocates for children’s rights. It is not only children that need to learn about their rights but adults who need to know that children are neither sex toys nor toy soldiers. They are born to live!
Memories are sometimes the closest relationship we have ever had! They can bring smiles and warm our hearts and at the same time tear us apart. Past relationships swell up in the form of memories, some of which are hard to let go. Sometimes, it is the worst memories that grow on us and the pleasant ones slip away like fine sand through our fingers. A relation may end in good or bad terms but the memories linger on. Some of us try to paddle away from memories that hold us back from moving on but the harder we try, the faster they float back. And some other times, some good memories are like wine…maturing into something more crimson and bitter-sweet.
There are are many things that rekindle our memories: an anecdote, a nostalgic perfume, a torn picture, a movie, the lake front you shared a couple of beers with a friend, a hearty laughter that reminds you of your grandfather, a warm hug on a cold day from a distant friend, the song of your first dance and conversations that never ended. Friends and dear ones that leave us, never leave completely. They leave behind a piece of themselves and a piece of us. It is not possible to get over relationships or memories, because they were real at some point. But, it is important to let go of memories that hold us back from being ourselves and treasure the memories that make us smile.
Here is to memories…good and bad…memories that hold us together with friends from the past…memories that bring a smile to our heart!
Can you think of little surprises that make us happy?
A postcard from a friend. A compliment from a colleague. A sneaky snuggle from your child or grandchild. An unexpected refund. A comforting prayer. Early morning coffee. Paper boats on puddles …These are few things that warm my heart. I have never really prayed for any of these things but they just happen and brings a smile. Very often, instead of enjoying the moment, these moments get overlooked while I’m focusing on other things. Things that seem like (at least to me) insurmountable troubles in life! It’s a problem that hasn’t been solved, a squabble with a friend, a sick friend a prayer that is unanswered. When prayers are not answered and I see pain and injustice around me, I get very impatient with God. I wonder why God doesn’t intervene when there’s injustice and make our problems disappear.
Coming to think of it, my myopic vision isn’t fair on God. God does not choose to burden us or make us suffer. Small surprises that we encounter each day are a constant reminder that God does care for us. Just as we are different from each other, so is the nature of our problems. We each carry our own burdens and life is never easy. But, perhaps unfolding the little surprises God has in store for us can help us get through the bigger problems. Instead of blaming God for our burdens, we need to focus on our priorities and be responsible for our lives and actions. Instead of being impatient with God, we need to have the courage to think through our problems and find a way out. God’s ways are not always obvious and many times we fail to see God’s answers but if we take charge of our lives and pay attention to the small details, we will certainly be able to look past our troubles and see that God always cares.
Our prayers may not be answered the way we like them to be but God loves us and cares deeply about us. When we worry about our future, God worries too 🙂
It is always exciting to be in the middle of nowhere! Black Forest is the most beautiful, magical forest I have ever seen. The view of the incessant shadows of pine trees and the different hues of dark bottle green is simply breathtaking. Once you enter the protected area, it is quiet, calm, crisp, refreshing and we were with nature at its purest form. Suddenly, it just felt right. The stillness and the beauty around us brought a great level relaxation that we were in dire need of!
We drove past pretty little towns with sweet bakeries and tiny boutiques. After four hours on the road, we reached Schonach, Central Black Forest. We stayed in a house called “Haus Blindensee”. The house is named after the mystic lake, Lake Blindensee which s 0.3 kms from the chalet itself. It was a quaint little chalet with the most amazing view of the forest. We took it easy on the first day and went to the lake and enjoyed the enticing trails of the forest. We saw some colourful, wild mushrooms, gigantic trees that were uprooted and several wild plants.
On our second day, we visited the World’s largest Cuckoo Clocks in Schonach which was built by Josef Dold. The clock is built into a small house in Schonach. Dimensions of the Clock mechanism: 3.60 m (12 feet) wide, 3.10 m (10 feet) high, 1 m (3 feet) deep. It was a great moment because I always thought Cuckoo clocks came from Switzerland! It is never too late to learn! We then visited the Triberg waterfall which is the highest waterfall in Germany. The smell of wet soil took me back to my childhood. Later on, we visited the Black Forest Open Air Museum. It carries out research projects and explores the cultural heritage and development of all rural areas in the Black Forest region. In addition, the museum collects and preserves for the future important cultural assets from the region to ensure that the people of the region and visitors can access and experience these collections. It was very interesting to see how people have lived and worked in Black Forest farmhouses over the last 400 years. We ended our day with a delicious slice of “black forest” cake and a warm cup of coffee.
We spent our weekend with our adorable little God daughter Indira and her parents, Rabi and Iris. When we discover new places with people we love and conversations are effortless, it is always a memorable trip. This was one such trip and we hope to have more experiences in the coming months.
Saturday started off well with a hot cup of coffee on a cold, rainy morning. Little did I know that there would be a small accident and I had hurt my knee. It was a rather deep cut through my artery and there was a lot of blood. I kept my calm not wanting to scare my son and dressed up the wound with my husband’s help and went to the doctor. Even as the doctor examined the cut and explained how deep it was and the number of stitches I needed, I did not panic. This attitude was very strange and un-Daphne like, as I used run a mile when I saw a needle as a child. Now, here I was lying in the emergency room, telling myself, this too shall pass.
While I was lying there, I was glad that this accident happened to me and not to my child. (Parents have this streak of freakish craziness about protecting their children from pain.) Then, I started thinking about all the people who go through pain caused and intensified by violence. Children that are so badly hurt…..How many people go through this experience, each day? Many. And, some of them don’t see the end of the day as they don’t have access to medical care.
Sometimes, it takes small accidents to feel the pain. It takes some moments at the emergency room to remember how many people suffer through this pain. It takes a little faith to not panic, and say this too shall pass but it takes a lot of strength to be mindful and pray for healing, both spiritual and physical. Not all wounds are bloody but they sure hurt. Scars are a constant reminder of struggle and strength and let us not become numb towards the pain around us.
Faith is at the heart of healing as it could be where the mystery of healing becomes real. “The expectations that we arouse in the process of healing have to take into account both, of God’s faithfulness to keep God’s promises and of the freedom in the way that God keeps them. To tell somebody that if they believe enough the healing that they seek is guaranteed, is to court disappointment if it does not happen, but even worse it is to misrepresent healing as a cause and effect process rather than a personal transaction. A prayer in which we let what concerns us pass from our hands into God’s and wait for an answer that we cannot control, but that we have good reason to believe will always be gracious even when it is not the one we were looking for.
We have to tread carefully on this delicate course between not encroaching on God’s freedom and at the same time firmly trusting in God’s promises. That is what we do in healing because that is what we do in all prayer.”