Grace to you
This year began with a remarkable event. A miraculous event. A water-into-wine-event. An ocean-splitting-event in the same proportion as the one of long ago that enabled slaves to scamper into freedom on dry ground. I mean how else would you describe the gathering of 5 million women standing side-by-side covering a distance of 620 km? (Further than Johannesburg to Durban). According to one eyewitness: “There were so many women and there wasn’t even space for women to extend arms. If they had extended their arms, the length of the wall would have increased so much that women would be falling in the Arabian Sea.” This is what took place in India on the 2nd January as women stood in solidarity with two other women (Bindu Ammini and Kankadurga) who entered the Sabarimala Temple. They became the first two women to access the shrine after the country’s Supreme Court overturned a centuries-old ban on women aged 10 to 50 from entering the temple in September last year, ruling it to be discriminatory and arguing that women should be able to pray at the place of their choice.
A line of women stretching over 600 km must be the largest voluntary action in human history. Ironically it could only have happened spontaneously. Who would believe it possible to actually plan such an event? This is a good example of a miracle. A miracle by definition brings life – new life – open life – full life – abundant life. A miracle by definition is a surprise. Yet, even though miracles by nature surprise, they usually take a long time (a hidden amount of time) to be manufactured. Miracles need to be marinated over many nights. There are millions of micro-ingredients that go into the making of a miracle – most of which are unseen by the naked or untrained eye. These ingredients are held together within the plasma of grace. Ignorant of all the ingredients and their relationship with each other we are totally surprised at the result that stretches hundreds of km in front of us. A result we literally didn’t even know was in the making. A miracle we missed being made.
We missed the grace that sustained the dignity of women’s gender equality amidst thousands of years of patriarchy and how this grace was incarnated in the flesh of millions in myriads and myriads of ways. We missed the countless people who courageously, patiently and persistently worked to secure the ground-breaking constitutional court judgment in 2018. We missed the police who defended the constitution rather than their own prejudice. We missed the two who dared to live out their grace-nurtured and constitutionally-defined dignity by walking through the night to reach the 800-year-old mountain top temple in the face of angry mobs of men. We missed multitudes of these hidden and secretive moments of miraculous conception. But the result is impossible to miss.
The result simultaneously becomes an ingredient mixed into the plasma of grace to be used in another surprising show of new life we will call a miracle in the future – the time and place of which is a mystery to us. Remember it is not for us to worry about dates and times but rather to trust and obey in the meantime.
Keeping our eyes open to rejoice in the tiny ingredients we are able to see.