Wednesday, 14 December 2016

This is my lover, this is my friend

Seventeen sun-spins ago, on a cold December Fifteenth morning in Rourkela, Odisha, in the last year of the past millennium, Sheba and I stepped into married life together.

2 years into our marriage - a visit to Kenny and Judy David at CMC Vellore

What a journey it has been.  We started our life together at the Nav Jivan Hospital in Satbarwa, Jharkhand.  Our first home had gauvas dropping onto the roof and a custard apple tree in our back courtyard.

A year and 10 months and 1 beautiful daughter later we had an unexpected call to shift to the big city of Mumbai and work with local churches and people with HIV.  Another year later saw us move over to Thane and begin the Jeevan Sahara Kendra.

Our stay in Thane was book-ended by sons.  Enoch was born 4 months after we shifted at the end of 2002, and our foster-son Yohan entered our lives on World AIDS Day 2014.

The 13 years we lived in Thane are the bulk of our life together.  Our family grew.  We delved deep into our house-church.  Relationships deepened and people died, many having tasted peace and entering into the Kingdom of the Son.  Asha and Enoch grew up like vines and stepped into their teens.  We have shed our share of tears - most of them in secret.  We have had far more joy than we ever deserve.  Our lives have been a fairly big blender - and looking back we have to say that the upshot is some pretty interesting flavoured lassi.  Enoch once made a peanut and chocolate and banana flavoured smoothie... something like what we may taste like.

And through it all, Sheba and I continued to walk together.

We knew from the very beginning that our life together would not be easy.  And it has panned out that way.  We are quite, quite different from each other.  And what a blessing that is too!

Sheba has enriched me and shaped my walk with God in innumerable ways.  I hope that some of who I have become by God's grace has rubbed off in her too.

And so we step into our 18th year of marriage with a sigh and a smile.

There are still plenty of things that are not neat-and-tidy.  Despite our attempts and anguished prayers, our foster-son Yohan remains in institutional care in the Mumbai area for the foreseeable future.  The pain of leaving him is fresh.  17 years of togetherness has not turned us into one unit - there are still areas that rub.  Our work seeps into who we are in varying ways.  Asha was suddenly swept off to boarding school (she is home for the next 2 months to prep for her 10th board exams at the end of Feb 17) and Enoch is being hoovered off to join her in March.  A new place has meant new challenges to worship together.  Life moves on at a dizzying rate.

But we also are so very, very blessed.  That we are still together.  That each morning we get up and drink ginger tea and read our Bibles.  That we are privileged to have worked with each other from the word go - and have been able to spend almost every day in each others company since Dec. 15th 1999.   That so many known and unknown uphold us in their prayers.  That we were able to be with Dad in his final weeks this year - and have our parents stay with us at various times over the past 2 decades.  That we are being knit together despite our groanings.

The Song of Songs says:  "This is my lover, this is my friend."  (SoS 5.16).

Both are choices.  Both are intertwined with each other.  We want to be lovers and friends to each other even more this year.  And to radiate grace to others in greater measure.  So help us God.

As we munched on some goodies that Sheba had brought back from her trip to Jhansi earlier today, the four of us celebrated our anniversary already.  We looked at each other and said: "who would have imagined we would be like this today?"  We are grayer and more gritty in some ways, but also smoother and more pliable in others.

I salute Sheba and her immense capacity to step boldly forward and full-heartedly trust our precious Jesus.

It's a beautiful life.  17 years down.   Hopefully many, many more to come.

The two of us at Lalitpur near the end of 2016