Lessons from a surprise


On a Sunday evening, not too many weeks ago, I landed in Bangalore on work. It was my wedding anniversary but I had set that aside. Given my travel and the fact that my wife was in Delhi, nothing was planned. I checked into the guest house I was to stay in, and then went over for a walk. The idea was to finish my walk, have a shower, eat dinner and go to sleep. My walk was interrupted by a call from one of my colleagues asking me where I was. She was waiting for me at the guest house.

I walked back to the guest house to be greeted by an incredible sight. One of my senior colleagues was there along with her two small daughters. The little girls were holding a bouquet and some cake and another younger colleague was standing by with his bike and a Fab India shirt as a present so that we all could go out and have a wonderful meal at a restaurant.

I don’t often get surprised these days but that evening I was. Later on I learnt that my wife had helped plan it, and I am grateful to her and my two colleagues who gave up an evening so that my ordinary day had an extraordinary ending. God, working through my wife and colleagues surprised me that evening and forced me to acknowledge that though I often think that I have seen plenty and experienced a lot, I am still capable of being amazed by such unexpected gestures in ways that are celebratory and joyful and that I am not totally a cynic … not yet ! And I am as thankful for the experience as for the discovery of this fact.

Since then I am trying to open my eyes to the surprises and miracles that are all around and which I often don’t see. And they are everywhere; it is just that I had lost the interest to look and tuned my eyes off anything but the expected and the routine. I have found it in unusual places and ways – in gestures, in unexpected compliments, bank statements and of course, in many touching expressions of friendship and loyalty.

The last surprise that I had, came in the form of a talk – a theological reflection where the preacher asserted that God is not always in control of this world and its affairs – Satan, is the prince of the world and often it is he who is in control, and often it is his will that gets done on earth – as for instance in the very recent Tsunami in Japan. And yet, as I wrestle with the thought that God might not be sovereign in this world – a thought I have never thus far heard preached from any church, I nevertheless recognize for a fact that God does not meet all our expectations. But that does not mean that God is not present in our world and in our lives. But the manner of God’s presence is probably not the way we expect and it is in the discovery and the exploration of that presence, that perhaps we are most surprised and over awed. I learnt that afresh on the 20th of February this year.

Shantanu Dutta

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