Gratitude in an age of uncertainty - C.K.Mathew, C.S. Rajasthan


Old age creeps on you like a thief in the night. One minute you are young and fit and fabulous; the next your knees are aching, your molar twinges, your hair is turning grey and you are short of breath on a flight of stairs.
Remember the wonderful days of your youth; when you woke up you were full of energy and willing to take on the world at full tilt. There was a spring in your step and music in your ears. School and college were fun and frolic; there was a time to play the fool, there was a time to slog over text books. There was a clarity that let you see things in black and white. Doubt never reared its ugly head. The world was for your taking and you did take it. You sipped on the bountiful elixir of youth. Marriage was bliss and the first few years thereafter were like life on cloud nine.

But as time passed, the reality of the existence you lead creep near like a snake in the grass. Children come with their wet nappies and their heartbreaking innocence. You worry for them, lose sleepless nights when they groan through a fever. Somehow your life merges with theirs until it seems that you have two identities; you own, and theirs, fused into an inseparable whole.

Bills mount, you need a house and you take a loan from the bank; and as you move into your late thirties and forties, you try to keep a balance between the demands of work and the pull of domestic worries. There are old parents to care for, the mortgage to be paid off, and the worries of work sit like a cloud over your head. The first lines on your face are etched in your early fifties, and thereafter there is a rush of the passing days falling like a shadow over your every action. You start to think there are only so many years before you retire. You agonise over the illnesses of older friends and relatives.

Children leave you in search of a job or for marriage, at precisely that point of time when you would have loved to have them near you. You are shocked into terror when a colleague loses his life in a stupid avoidable accident, or when an aunt finally gives up her battle with cancer. The frailty of your existence sobers you like nothing else can. And then you turn, reluctantly and with some measure of surprise, to prayer and contemplation. You visit places of worship you had been told about or never even known existed.

There are unknown fears lurking at the corners of meaningless dreams that flood your night sleep. You know with more and more certainty now that the simple joys you had known in your younger days are but pieces of a much vaster jigsaw puzzle that no one has as yet figured out. The night sky dazzles you, not only for the beauty of the firmament, but for the incomprehensible vastness that shows you your true worth.

The loneliness of a greying couple, left to fend for themselves, even as superannuation nears: that is the stage of life that I and my wife are in currently. I am grateful for the comforting presence of old people in the house, who calm me and steady me when I am back from office late evening. And despite my grey hair and shortness of breath, I am wordlessly thankful for the bountiful blessings heaped on me and mine. I know I am more blessed than many others and while I rejoice in that fact, I know these are but transitory joys.

So what is the purpose of my rambling on and on like this. I think I can state the purpose of my writing this blog in the following words:

First, to state in so many words that I am grateful for the gift of my life and the blessings heaped on me and my own. I think there is a need to articulate this fact in so many words for we rarely give thanks to the good Lord above for what he has granted us. Rather we take them for granted just as we take in the breath in our lungs.

Second, to pray for His kindness and charity in the unknown days ahead; to plead that His bountifulness does not diminish when we need him the most.

And third, to accept with bowed heads what is in store for us, promising not to complain or cringe, but to step forward with clear open eyes and take what comes our way with humility and courage.

Gratitude in an age of uncertainty: that is the theme today. Amen
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