Only a night’s train journey and I was transported from the city with its traffic snarls, noise, dust, heat and emissions to the open countryside – with its blue skies, tall, green grasses and air, fresh as dew.
The very first night of my stay at the convent with the RSCJs (the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), we reflected on our encounter with the cosmic Christ. I suddenly experienced a deep connect with nature around me. The hay bundled in the fields in brown stacks, fields covered with sugarcane, onions, marigolds. I drank in the sight of bright pink, white and red bougainvilleas growing in profusion and heard the call of birds and the whisper of the breeze. One late evening as we went picnicking to another village, we had overcast skies, a gentle breeze and the rustling of leaves. The big trees heaved and shook. The dust from the earth flew up in circles and the drops of rain sprayed us, giving us the sense of eternal nature.
I had begun to experience more and more of the cosmic Christ. At the convent I felt rooted and anchored in a community of service and prayer.
Did I, like many others, make the mistake of making Jesus my own parochial God? What about the simple people who saw Jesus in nature all around? I have now become more aware of the Christ of the cosmos -- in the mighty winds, oceans and trees.
As I look out of the window this morning, there is the shimmer of heat and I can feel the hot morning sun touch my cheeks. But there are islands of cool and nature seems to be as much at ease in summer as in the winter months and the monsoons.
I have also learned the importance of touching the earth. The feel of the soil under my feet, the touch of grass, the feel of the bark of trees, the touch of cool water, stroking the three majestic dogs in the place, watching the crows fly from tree to tree in loud cacophony.
At a prayer service we had in Andheri, Mumbai, recently, a devotee spoke about his experience of the cosmic Christ at the Grand Canyon, USA and on the banks of the river Colorado, which gave him a sense of proportion and awe. He was small in comparison, yet had the potential to grow big in terms of being a part of the infinite cosmos. He’d connected with the cosmic Christ.
Driving through the countryside around Haregaon, with the brown plains and green fields rolling past, the roads overarched by trees, are shady and cool. These trees have endured and survived storms and tempests – and I am part of the great cycle of Nature. I am touched by the cosmic Christ. For every constituent of Nature is also a part of us, just as we are a part of the cosmic Christ.
When I was a child, I would often pray by reciting the hymn, “Spirit of God in the clear running waters, blowing to greatness the trees on the hill”. Now as an adult, my sense of God’s presence in nature and the cosmic Christ have matured.
To the sisters of the RSCJ community -- including Marie Noronha, Shalini, Jyoti, Rajni and my sister Phila -- I am grateful for building in me the spirit of service and prayer and giving me a sense of being an integral part of the cosmic Christ.