Or simply Lord would suffice, I’m sure.
Almost two years ago, I was participating – or rather being made to participate – in a three week long programme on development of effective communication and other soft skills. An inescapable event that occurs at these programmes is the debate. Pit one group of socially awkward kids against another equally incapable of stringing meaningful sentences together. Most kids that age don’t even have opinions on the sort of topics they’re required to defend; they are then faced with the herculean task of not only acquiring one but also to convincingly put it across to a roomful of smug individuals glad to have escaped the same fate. Daunting.
But this story is not about that.
The rules were simple. One team would argue for and the other would argue against the topic given. The instructor laid down the gauntlet and it began.
Does God exist?
As the classroom around me erupted in shouts about everything from miracles to faith, from religion to the mysteries of the universe, from stars and their alignment to dreams, from humanity to carved stones, and one lone man roaring in the name of science over and over again, I questioned myself, my own beliefs and what they were based on. At the end of soul-searching session, I concluded that God does not exist.
This story is not about that either.
It is about what happened after I reached that conclusion.
On my way home, at the end of the day, I met an old college friend in the train. I decided to seek her opinion on the matter; not to debate or argue or prove her wrong. I simply wanted to know.
She believed in God. Vehemently so. She defended her views during the rest of the journey, making me wish I had never broached the subject. It was while I was idly listening to her and cracking my knuckles, that I made an alarming discovery:
I had lost my ring.
It was a simple gold ring, given to me by my parents a few years before. It was the only piece of jewelry I wore and it was gone. I voiced my loss to her and we both began frantically searching the train compartment for a fallen, gold ring. I had no way of knowing when I had lost it in the first place; it could have been anywhere from the classroom to the train and all places in between. I searched one side of the compartment and she searched the other.
Our stop was coming up and as the distance reduced, so did my hopes. We made our way to the exit and I stared out dejectedly. What was I going to tell my parents? They would never trust me with an expensive item of any sort ever again.
The exit we were standing at had been on my side of the compartment. Suddenly, my friend stooped down, picked something from the ground and brandished something in my face with a squeal. I may have screamed at the sight of my beloved ring, I’m not sure. I hugged her as we both giggled hysterically and disembarked the train amidst all the drama.
It was as I was walking across the train platform that a thought wormed its way into my head. I had searched that side of the compartment very thoroughly and had even looked beneath all the benches. And yet when she had glanced around, casually, as a last resort before we got off the train, she had found it.
She who believed in God and I who didn’t.
This did not feel like coincidence. It had not been a miracle, but it had been enough to shake me. I had this sudden image in my head: of a faceless, shapeless being staring down at me with kind eyes and a knowing smile. I felt like a little child, about to do something naughty or silly, who is gently nudged by an attentive, loving mother, letting the child know that she is watching, looking out for her. Here, it seemed to be saying, I’m right here.
It wasn’t frightening, but it was overwhelming. The more I thought about it, the more that feeling grew. In that moment, my world expanded and became something bigger. I felt a connection form that day, a connection that shakes me when I think about it even today.
The instructor’s voice rang in my ears.
Does God exist?
I stared at the ring in the palm of my hand, blameless in all this and yet not.
Yes, He does.