Chandrakant Wakankar shared some of the above while speaking at the 'It's a Great Life' series of public lectures which our group of house churches has run the last 2 years. Using his own life as an example he wove together a challenge for us to trully be part of our wonderful nation of India- with all its jostling cultures - while at the same time humbly speaking truth in love into the different situations we find ourselves in.
Chandrakant draws on a life lived in learning - a lifetime of carefully observing - reading - sifting through material and testing them out - which gives him a unique set of insights into our nation. As the chief Environmental Education officer for the World Wildlife Fund (India) for many years - Chandrakant has down countless treks and camps - tracking and observing wildlife and flora. This was wedded with another fascinating set of interests - namely the military history of the great Maratha King Shivaji. Using various books as his source, Chandrakant walked the land of the battles - looking at the geography of the area and sifting out which descriptions were true from the fanciful.
This life-time of discovery has ended him up in a unique place where he is able to put these ideas into practice - Chandrakant is currently contributory faculty at the Unversity of Pune in the departments of Environmental Studies and Defence and Strategic studies, besides being a consultant to the Science and Technology Park (also part of Pune U). His spell-binding tales did not only enthrall little boys with wide open mouths - it led him to be lecturing cadets and officers of the national defence academy on military history and strategy.
We live is such a push-button age. A time when we want everything given to us immediately. A quick google search here, a web-browse there - and then we feel we have 'researched' enough. How wonderful to hear a person share small insights into a lifetime of learning. It struck me that we not only need to be learning ourselves - but that we need to be learning as families and communities. The church - as God's body on earth - must together be sifting through and picking up - cherishing that which is good - burnishing that which needs a polish - lopping off this and that which clearly do not belong...
The beauty of our country - the amazing fact that it has 11 out of the 12 major biomes (only the Medditeranean biome is missing) - the almost infinite number of plants and animals (one example below from a near-by park) - and then the overlapping of various human histories and cultures brings us back in awe to the source of it all. We love our culture and country by loving God ... with our eyes open.