Sunday, 6 April 2008

A walk in the woods

Being in urban Thane - we tend to get overwhelmed by the grittiness of life in the city. All the more so since we work with so many who live in such horrible situations - the filth and refuse of their shanty-town surroundings mirrors that miseries of broken relationships and sordid bondages.
It is important to come away for a while. We did that as a team yesterday - spending the day with our dear friend John Forbes in the Borivali National Park. The amazing part of it all is how spatially close we are to nature - just a 10 minute walk from our centre brings us into the national park.Once inside, it is a 1/2 hour walk up the hill and there we are on the ridge. With trees and a few small fields and no one else in sight. We worshipped God in the sheer beauty of his creation. Heard John encourage us about allowing God to do new things in us - and discovering the on-going work He is doing. We then listened as each person shared what they had learned in the last 3 months. The reports ranged from the personal - new things learned, small but important frontiers crossed - to our work where people have seen spiritual break-throughs in people's lives and where one of our staff said that instead of just loving others with HIV - they had received so much love from the people who have HIV that he was serving. We had time for team-building games - a crab-relay got the pulses racing- and brought lots of laughs and cheers from all. Another game with animal names and rythmic clapping made sure everyone had ample opportunities to laugh. We also reviewed the past 3 months and spent time praying for the next 3. Then there was the business of lunch....
A sumptious spread showed the culinary skills of all and sundry. This amazing spread had been brought up the hill and was eagerly devoured. Almost like something out of Enid Blighton. We only needed the Famous Five to show up.

Post lunch we spent time alone. Time to be quiet and listen. To the rustle of the wind in the leaves. To see the bamboo flowers - which only bloom something like every 18 years or so. To watch hawks and listen to birds. To be enveloped by the buzz of the cicadeas. God speaks through His creation.
From the ridge we could look down the eastern slopes to the urban sprawl of Thane - ever populated with more buildings rearing themselves up. A glance over to the Western side shows the forest opening up to the ridges of the National park. We could be looking at anywhere in central India. The hills and scrub forests - the occasional house or two of a long-standing village settlement.

And so we came back for a final feed-back and prayer. The time up away - and together - had been a deep blessing for us all. Nature does that to you. We return to seeing people with HIV and their needs on Monday. God has been looking after them in our absence. But we return with a bit of the hill-side peace in our hearts. Be still and know that I am God - it says in the good book. We did. We know.

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