We are attending a wedding at Mamallapuram, a tiny town of beautiful temples and beaches off Chennai. Wake up in this beautiful resort to palm and casuarina clumps twitching violently against heavy gusts and whip cold lashes of rain. Cyclone Vardah has come to town. A rather sumptuous wedding lunch down, we buckle up for the other serious business of the drive home to Bangalore.
Winds and lances of rain assault everything, us included. The only way ahead is to slow down to a 30-40 kmph crawl with all tail lights blinking and some smattering of prayer. The highway is of hazes, rivulets and vegetation if not whole trees or telephone poles uprooted. Even as we drive by, fields transform into cattle ponds.
A turn, a slowing down and there it is: a small but beautiful church, white and serene against the fury.
Now Jesus has not been easy to find. I attended a Catholic school where religious education was secular and only the Christians filed out of class for Cathecism. If I ever crossed myself in a bus going past a church, someone flashed disdain at me. Of course he was god. Just that he was not my god and I had no right pretending he could be.
He intermittently found a way to come into my life, particularly in the secluded splendour of the massive churches and basilicas of Goa. And in music from the West which I adore and sing tunelessly yet with deep fervour.
We appropriate everything we love. And that church and my response to it stands testimony to an alternate love story where in the midst of a storm Jesus became mine too, if only because of the enduring relationship we have had unspoken.
As someone outside the fold of the church I have little access to the theology and ritualistic practices, and may focus primarily on the spiritual teachings of Christ. I feel the rapture that is Jesus. I may as well be Joseph of Cupertino and levitate into that angry vortex of winds in the praise of our Lord.
And as the furious cyclone breaks through barriers and rinses all, I see the continuum of light that is the closest we may come to seeing god. Light has no name. Light is Christ as easily as it could be Shiva. There are no boundaries to who may or may not love light.
Right there in the lap of howling winds and wilderness I celebrate the greatest mystic to ever walk this earth and who left us with the simplest pathways: pray, love and give.