My youngest daughter just returned from a Mission of Peace trip in India. It has been suggested that the participants of this trip not give any public presentations about the journey for at least one month in order to allow them the time to internalize everything that they experienced. I think that is a great idea.
However, I didn’t go to India. I allowed my daughter to answer a call she felt in her life to go and experience the world in a way that is different than what she normally experiences here in Southern West Virginia. I have fewer experiences to internalize – despite the fact that I am seeing knew pictures and hearing new stories several times a day. However, I have learned a lot.
First and most important I have learned that when you allow your child to be baptized, you better be ready for it. You do not know when that child is going to sit down at the dinner table, hand you a set of papers and say, “Daddy, I think God wants me to go on this trip to India.” A normal parent can make a simple yes or no decision. A parent who had the audacity to allow their child to be claimed by God has to weigh in whether they really meant what they said when they gave that child to God’s Kingdom first. If I could relive their childhoods, I would definitely have my children baptized again. However, even now, when I am holding an infant and sprinkling water on their head in worship, I sometimes look at the parents and think, “Do you really know what you’ve gotten yourself into with this Baptism? Can you imagine the day they say to you, ‘God wants me to go to China?'” I love India, but it sure has made me think about Baptism a lot.
I also loathe long airline flights. Truth be told, the longest I have ever been on an airplane is three hours. But when your sixteen year old is making two back-to-back eight hour plus trips in a German airliner, you should earn “frequent waiter” miles. I never imagined how much time I would focus on that plane staying up in the air and landing safely on the ground. Never. I love India, but it sure has made me appreciate those who sit at home while their loved ones fly!
I could go on and on with my observations but I only want to make one final one today…I love India, even though it is a country I am experiencing through the eyes and stories of my child, because it has placed in that child a joy that I could never have given her while she is here. The beauty of both nature and people, the grandeur and utter poverty that she experienced, and especially the way she witnessed people with greatly different theological views sharing with one another in providing love, care, and food to the fellow human beings has placed on my child a hope that is rarely, if ever, found in the United States. We love our differences too much here. We prefer to fight about them while our hungry starve, our homeless freeze and our philosophical blue and red states turn into places of violence. We love our differences more than we love one another sometimes. And that is sad.
I love India. It is a “love once-removed” for me. However, I love India for lighting hope in my child in a way I have never seen.