It is hard not to see things in India. The chaos, extremes of all kinds, and contrast is up front and personal. The question that I often pose to visitors and residents alike is simple.
“Did you see the beauty in…?”
The answer on the face in the first second provides the honesty that the question demands. What beauty? Where was that? How could I miss something like that? Where was I when that was in sight? Here, today, in this moment?
Yes, in the midst of the chaos, poverty, pain, dirt, and exploitation there are incredible scenes of kindness, hope, mercy, energy, and dialogue. Examples where one naturally does not expect to find it. Smiles and sparkling eyes found with children struggling for survival, seemingly living in a world where opportunities are rare to nonexistent. Acts of kindness where no repayment is possible even if it might be considered. Individuals publicly express personal thanks for things in the present and without any apparent thought for what might have been. When least expected, and from the most unlikely people, life plays out acts of beauty, moments of awe, and gifts of unmerited grace.
Yet most people are rushed, hassled, and otherwise blind to the very moments that give life color, texture, and memories.
John records a simple statement. “A great Sign appeared in Heaven.” (Revelation 12.1)
Most people have and will miss the description that follows. They are words buried in a book of revelation. And yet the message and description carried within is playing out all around us. God is at work. God is engaged. God’s presence is out on display. We can see it and experience it; yet so many of us, my “self” included, are blind to the reality of the present.
My advice is simple and I find myself listening. Yesterday’s blindness doesn’t mean that today must be the same. Each moment is an opportunity for hope, grace, and love – if I choose to be aware and act. The opportunities are there, for all of us, equally and in unlimited measures.