From Karma To Grace

As a former Hindu, I have been asked questions I find myself attempting to answer in my poems, short stories, other writing and conversation. I read in Christianity Today, Christ, My Bhodisattva.

Americans disillusioned with Christian leadership/institutions and their brothers and sisters in Christ, turn to eastern religions for answers. Few are equipped to discuss God cross culturally or in a comparative manner. Mr. Ram Goodimal is a businessman and politician who is doing this in a very skillful and meaningful way.

Some Americans tell me that as a ‘new’ believer, I take God and the Bible “too literally.” To them I say, God does say in the Bible to take Him at His word. “Heaven and earth will pass away but not the word of God.” In my journey as a Christian for seven years now, I find that man will fail you but God will not. He cannot. It is simply not in His nature to fail. And for those of you who ask why He does not then prevent suffering, I will tell you that He never said He was going to do that. If you read the Bible as carefully as if your life depended on it (which it does) or as if you were writing your doctoral dissertation, you’ll find, He says, in this world, you will have trouble, but Jesus, has overcome it all.

The beautiful, exciting, wonderously, miraculously hopeful thing about the God of the Bible is Jesus. When you read the Bible, you will find what my husband, Ben, describes as the perfect mind and heart of God.

It is no wonder that President Abraham Lincoln poured over the Bible. Whatever your political or partisan views, I say to you now, as the Bible is not a banned book in your country, get a copy and pour over it. Don’t take your religion from any man or woman. Man is a fallen creature, often men like to exalt themselves over others. I wrote this poem because in my journey as a woman of faith, I ran into that as well. And, sometimes, I must confess, I do exactly what others do to me, by which I mean to say, I stand guilty of that very same sin – of wanting to exalt myself over others. Not a good idea. In the long run we all check out of this world with empty hands.

Still the good news is – as a faithful woman missionary friend of ours, Anita Singh, said, “Don’t even take your religion from me. Whatever I say, go back and measure it against the word of God.”

Luke 19:10. For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.
from Karma to Grace
I was set afire orange gold; ivory flowers crafted in a loom
Of moonlight claimed their tongues of flame from my frame;
Do you imagine I was hurled a human inferno blazing in
Colors of sorrow to be prey to hollow faiths?

for such thoughts, you, beloved of God, are mad

I wore a season of desire; silk and gold arrived on trays
Summoned by gods who fell in cauldrons burned black
To ends crimson like coal; the red lights in my hair glowed
A crow so black blue dazzles the eye rose!

From dark bushes grown in heaven, I plucked fallen
Stars to adorn my nose, bells beached on my soles;
All gods in repose heard the clamor; my heart hastened
To receive the Lord
Tiny beads of perspiration clung to my forehead;

Did you imagine I would not work out my own salvation?
With fear and trembling?

For such thoughts, you, beloved of God, are mad.

I kept myself : whole, body and soul
Each day, upon an oval gilt edged mirror
I gazed! I sighed!
Vain in my imagination, I reckoned
I was pleasing in God’s sight; I born of dirt hid
Between leaves and grass – like you
Could not come till I was beckoned- that’s all.

Compelled to make peace with the clamor of other
Gods, the ones who in magic incantations made me
Queen of nations; I sought the Maker
Of my soul, burning my feet on coals
Weaving garlands in colors bold, I listened to
The priests of old who dandled gods of silver
And gods of gold on their knees blinded by the ornate splendor
I groped sightless, in the mango grove where an illusion
Played the flute and I was lost like a mythical name
But it was not by fluke that I was found

Did you imagine the distance from Karma to Grace so
Great I would be lost forever more?

For such thoughts, you, beloved of God are mad.

He reached down and received me, Himself
Untangling the knots of silver and gold
Unloosing the hold of world upon me
As I lay silk cloth upon the thorns, He scarred
His hands retrieving me; now I rise up to
Sing and give thanks
You lay your hands on me in your assembly
Urging I glorify you?

For such thoughts, you, o work of human hands, are mad.

To the Living God alone is Glory.


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