I left Madras three days ago yet a continuing scene replays itself in my mind. No, I do not see the unending maze of nameless streets that constitutes the city itself, or the chaos masking itself a city traffic, or the searing heat of early summer. Even the dust quickly faded into a trivial fact. What I recall is the continuous variations of temple worship that seem to mark every third corner.
Madras is a spiritual town. Churches are plentiful. Hindu Temples well attended. Muslim Mosques accepted. Local papers carry spiritual guidance columns as well as regular editorials on various God related subjects. There is no doubt that God is alive and present, at least if the actions of Madras residents are counted as votes.
The reason that Madras keeps replaying itself is not simply because there are many places of worship. On a per-capita basis I am sure that our small English village has as many worship venues as Madras. The difference comes in the frequency that I find places full to overflowing, high to virtually none, times that activity is noted, always to once a week which is only broken by the occasional wedding or funeral scheduled at odd hours, and knowledge of those passing by. Please do not ask me about the service going on at the church on High Street in Walton-on Thames; I am not even sure if the church is Anglican or Catholic. In contrast, each house of worship has a story and as often as not the person can tell or know what is going on. If not, they are happy to stop and ask!
I walk away from Madras more committed to worship than ever before. I do not want to be one of masses who others describe as being willing to “dig a fork into the pie but are too lazy to raise it to their mouth.” (Proverbs 19.25) I was to be someone who could represent Madras! Worshipping God at all times of the day. Worshipping God as if nothing else matters; because it does not!