Friday, January 4, 2008

REFLECTIONS OF INDIA - HINDUS AND PILGRIMMAGE
January 4, 2007 - to Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu

FIRST HILL CLIMBS. We pedaled to within 90 miles of Bangalore on this day in January 2007. Along the way, we encountered our first major climb, a 3 kilometer-long rise up into a high plane. I thought the steep hill would never end. Half way up the hill we encountered monkeys for the first time. A group of fifteen or so of the critters were frolicking by the roadside. We were too focused on making it up the hill to stop and take photos. Near the top, a roadside vendor was selling coconuts, so we drank coconut milk and ate some of the soft center before carrying on.

HINDUS ON PILGRIMAGE. We also encountered a group of Hindu pilgrims on their way to a religious festival. These devotees were kind enough to pose for Joe James' camera. Not sure how far they had to go, but they were making the journey on foot. Hinduism is incredibly diverse in its forms, expressions and intensities of devotion by Indians. Some take its claims and religious rituals quite radically; others seem to shrug it off. I note that the same can be said of American Christians.

I, TOO, AM A RADICAL PILGRIM. At the moment we encountered these Hindu pilgrims, I wasn't thinking of myself as a Christian on pilgrimage. At that moment, thought of myself as an American cyclist riding through India to raise awareness and support for a charity hospital. But as I look at this photo today, I realize that I am, indeed, a Christian pilgrim--and that I was so even as we encountered these Hindu pilgrims. My devotion to Jesus Christ led me to say an unqualified "yes" when asked to help raise funds to rebuild Umri Christian Hospital in this manner. Confidence that God in Christ would be with us, go before us, protect us, and be glorified prompted every action of follow-through. We dedicated the entire effort to God, not as a way to achieve immortality, demonstrate our devotion, purify ouselves, or earn righteousness, but in earnest cooperation with Christ as co-laborers in his vineyard and anticipators of his coming kingdom. Does it get any more radical than that?

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