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Through the thorns to the holy waters

I am in deep grief about a dear friend's troubles back home and in trying to respond from the heart, it's the Bible that comes to mind. Renuka Narayanan writes.

health and fitness Updated: Sep 17, 2011 21:56 IST
Renuka Narayanan
Renuka Narayanan
Hindustan Times
Renuka Narayanan

I am in deep grief about a dear friend's troubles back home and in trying to respond from the heart, it's the Bible that comes to mind.

It says powerfully in the King James version, which is the one I'm used to and love for its poetry: "And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free," (John 8:32).

Ecclesiastes, which is an Upanishad hidden in the Old Testament speaks of "a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace" (3:8), basically saying that everything has a season and a cycle and we must try our best to 'eat our bread with joy' and go with the flow as cheerfully as we can: that is the true human covenant.

This may sound like cold comfort to a stressed-out mind or troubled heart, but there it is. You just have to make that effort to meet the day with a smile and look for the best of it, not the worst, or else what's the point? But the Bible rushes to our side: "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith" (Proverbs 15: 17), which is another way of saying "Better a dinner of vegetables by yourself than steak with someone who dislikes you."

That affirms that "the truth shall make you free." It gives us the nettle to grasp, that rather than pine to be liked by those who do not want us, it is better to go home and nuke the leftover upma in the microwave.

This holds particularly true about close relationships that may not develop for a number of reasons, as to which I have to ask you my favourite existential joke: What's the difference between involvement and commitment? Answer: the difference between eggs and ham; for the hen is involved, the pig is committed.

However, "He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends," which is simpler said as "Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends" (Proverbs 17:9). Another way of saying, "Forgive and forget"?

Makes you think of the original Biblical landscape of 'Bethany over the Jordan'. To get to the healing waters of the holy River Jordan, we first go through a grove of thorny tamarisk trees. Ah, life.

Renuka Narayanan writes on religion and culture.