Friday, 27 December 2013

A Christmas to Remember

I started this blog last year in September to quench the fire of expression burning inside me. This is not my first experience of writing for the internet, especially in the religion and spirituality niche. But my previous blogs and social media profiles have long disintegrated into the lost archives of cyberspace.

Initially I thought I was doing good. During the Christmas season, I was uploading multiple blog posts every week, and I got some genuine recognition as well. I had many things to say, and I knew that my writing, reading, and research skills were improving with time.

But soon the reality of life sprang upon me. Even now I cannot call myself stable, either physically or spiritually, and this has been taking its toll on my writing. The struggle of not having the time and energy to come up with new material and the necessity of updating the blog regularly got the better of me, and so I loosened my editorial policies.

I have now started revamping the existing material, trying to find my voice once again. But this is not all that I have been doing during the Advent. I also entered a writing competition. Didn’t win, but it was good. You can read the entry here if you like.  

There is something else that has connected this blog with my life. Last year, I published a piece titled “Dead Children and Christmas” where I contemplated on the infancy narratives and the major child deaths in 2012. In retrospect, I was trying to write about something based on theoretical knowledge. Back then it was easy to say something like:

God’s sovereignty is prominent even when things go wrong, even when little children die

This year, however, I came to know what it actually feels like.

Half of my family has gone to Peshawar to attend a wedding and celebrate Christmas. This is the city where most of my relatives reside, and also the same place where the All Saints Church was bombed by terrorists.

You can imagine how emotionally loaded Christmas would be for them this year. But closer to home, we experienced the passing away of a child, a 9 year old girl who was physically unwell since birth. I didn’t even have the courage to stare at her face before she was buried. Watching the devastated family left me numb as well. I had nothing to say. I didn’t even attend church on the 25th.

As I tried to regain myself, my mind went back to the Christmas story. For the first time in my life, I saw suffering and happiness occurring simultaneously. Even our calendar displays this paradox, for 26th December is a public holiday for Christians while the 27th is the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. In Pakistan, we celebrate birth and death together.

And this is exactly what the Gospel narrates. As Rachel weeps for her children, Judah is consoled that he is not the least among rulers. It reminds me of a quote in ‘Shadowlands’, a movie showing the journey of C.S. Lewis’ ideological musings on suffering to the experience of watching his wife die from cancer:

Why love, if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore: only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I've been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal.”

At this point in my life, this is as clear as it gets.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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