Awakening a Keen Observer

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hand after hand

In Chennai India not far from the beach that was swamped when the Tsunami hit stands one of the churches that was begin at the time the apostle Thomas was in India and spread the Good news of Jesus.
It is now a Catholic church and very beautiful inside by it's age and simplicity. There are religious statues along windows and in small gratto's with candles before them. You approach something that looks like an altar except there are steps down into the basement, where encased in glass are proposed to be the bones, some of the bones, of St. Thomas. The disciple who wanted to see Jesus' wounds to believe. And who declared his faith as others have since there..."My Lord and My God."

We were an ecumenical group there for the International Rural Church meeting. Off to the right was a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary. Standing at her feet was a woman, clothed in a bright though very simple sari, with her hand on the foot of Mary in tears. No she wasn't in tears she was weeping she was sobbing, visibly. From where we stood you could see her shoulders heaving in her pain. The name of that pain I never knew.
One of the men in the group loudly condemned her for praying to Mary. I suggested if he had trouble with it perhaps he would be more comfortable in the garden. (Later I noted the garden had another statue of Mary.) He did leave.
From a distance i watched this woman, her life no doubt different from mine, and I also began to cry with her and for her. Whatever was her pain perhaps my crying and tears would take some of her pain. Ok, that wouldn't just happen but it was a moving experience. I don't know how long she stood there or where she went from there or what happened to her life or whatever the situation was that brought her such pain..... but I've carried that image of her with me ever since.
After she left I approached the statue. The simpleness of it was even more beautiful than I had seen before. But look there, the foot, the toes of Mary's extended foot are worn away. Worn away from hand after hand after hand after hand after hand that has been placed there in prayer in fullest belief and faithfulness.
I seemed in my faith to fall short of hers.


God abides
Bobbie Giltz McGarey

Rev. Dr. Bobbie G. McGarey


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