NOT ALL THOSE WHO WANDER ARE LOST
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien
Last evening, I wanted to talk to Norman*, a friend of mine. When I called up, he was driving his car. So, he quickly said, “I will call you back.”
After ten minutes, Norman called, “Sorry, I had to drop Vilma* (his wife) to the church.”
“Why church today?” I asked.
“Good, I have your company,” Norman sounded he was not serious.
“I didn’t understand,” I said innocently.
“It is 1st November, man, ‘All Saints’ Day,” my friend explained, “Vilma is very particular about attending the Mass. I have come on my work… and have to pick her up after the Mass.”
I remembered Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) in ‘Deewaar’… Every morning, on his way to work, he would go with his mom to the temple, but wouldn’t go inside… He would wait outside till his mother finished her prayers. But, in that breathtaking scene, towards the end of the movie, when his mother was dying and police were hunting for him, he had come on his knees and walked into the same temple… yes, all on his own. He hadn’t prayed to God ever before, the way his mother or anyone had… He was, now, angry with God for forsaking his mother – who had so much faith in Him… He vented out his pain and anger before God’s idol and finally broke down into his most earnest, humblest and direct plea before God…
It is one of the most moving prayers I have ever witnessed… So innocent, so fresh, so honest!
Today is ‘All Souls’ Day’. At 6 in the morning, while doing my rounds of walk, I saw an entire Christian family going for the Mass. They carried with them two large bags which were filled with flowers… “Where?” I asked in all my ignorance (Innocence?)
“To church… ‘Today is ‘All Souls Day’!
Another lady, whose husband was doing the morning walk, got into an Ola. “She is going to the Byculla church… Her grandmother had been burried there,” her husband told me.
Well, I was a little relived to find company in this man – a ‘sinner’ like me!
Jokes apart, let me confess this: I am a believer in God, prayer and spirituality. But, when it comes to religious rituals, customs, observation of ‘Days’ and practices, attending Mass, Confessions and all other traditional things of Roman Catholics, I am very less ‘conforming’. I hope, it doesn’t make me ‘less Christian’… God knows it… Jesus knows it… and, above all, I know it!
Vilma went inside the church to pray on ‘All Saints’ Day’… Her husband, my friend, chose to stand outside. But, I know my friend to be a fine human being… very God-fearing, if that’s how you wish to call him. I don’t think, God will care for his ‘prayers from outside the church’ less than his wife’s ‘prayers from iniside the church’…
Likewise will be my situation, too. I did not carry flowers and candles to my dad’s grave this morning as my fellow-Catholics did. I love my dad and I always keep him in my prayers… which I breathe every moment of my day. Will, then, God care for my prayers less?
I am always in awe of people who faithfully and most honestly observe the traditions and religious obligations… I am also in awe of a soul who is brought to his knees before he is made to ‘comes inside the temple’…
I think, that’s what ‘Amen’ means: ‘So be it’!
* Names changed
Pic.: Raj Hunashikatti