I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.
It was an unusually windy day at the Mount Mary Church in Bandra, the suburb of Mumbai where I reside. I am a frequent visitor there, climbing up the steps to the statue of the Virgin opposite the basilica. There’s usually a fire burning in which candles are lit as offerings.
It is not unusual to see people in distress, praying for solace and a solution to their problems. So, I didn’t cast a second glance at two women who had their heads pressed to the grate before the statue. Eyes closed, hands clinging to the iron bars, they were immersed in their prayers.
As my daughter and I folded our hands, suddenly a beautifully tragic and haunting song poured out from one woman’s lips. I guessed it was a South Indian language and the only word I could understand was ‘Maria’.
The wind seemed to caress the words and carry them up to the heavens, even as the other woman’s soft sobs wafted across the prayer area.
I stood rooted to the ground as the woman continued singing and the wind swirled around us.
Time seemed to stand still as the teardrops fell from the women’s eyes.
My daughter and I stayed on for a few moments before leaving, casting glances behind as the women disappeared from view, the song staying with us.
I had gone to the basilica to work out something that was on my mind — a feeling of loss and shock that I needed to deal with. I wasn’t let down — I realised that my problems were a trifle compared to what they could be, to what millions face every single day.
I am not very religious, but the perspective those women offered was enough to unburden me.
I had gone there to pray for myself. I walked away with a silent prayer for them.