29th April 2021            A Candle in the Window            Peter Millar

Words to encourage us in tough times            This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The tears of India:

As many of you know, South India was our home for many years when Dorothy and I worked in the Church of South India – in the diocese of what was then Madras, now Chennai. Our children were with us in Madras, and India with its extraordinary diversity and history has influenced us all. As we witness the suffering of our sisters and brothers throughout India at this time, we are lost for words. The scenes from Delhi and other cities, towns and villages are almost unimaginable as thousands of people each day cremate or bury their loved ones in the most basic of situations – car-parks, street corners and hastily arranged burial sites. From afar many of us weep as we watch the endless funeral pyres brightly burning but not surrounded by loved ones - a  farewell gathering which is just as important in India as in other countries.

Our media in the West are telling us that each day more than 300,000 people become Covid 19 positive. Yet friends in India tell me that the actual number is double that at least. Whatever the number may be, the mountain of human agony increases by day by day. Families and medics can only beg for help in this vast unfolding tragedy. It is a tragedy both for India and for our divided yet  inter-connected world. As we witness this increasing human suffering, may we all try to help as best we can. We share a common heart-beat and the cries of pain, wherever they arise in the world are also our cries in a whole range of ways which sometimes are hard to understand. Reaching out and listening to these cries is always a profound and significant act of love. And so we ponder these words of Saurabh Sharma and Hugh Tomlinson: “At Safdarjung hospital in Delhi a steady stream of auto rickshaws screeched to a halt and gasping patients were dragged indoors. Passing them the other way came bodies, sheathed in white plastic, followed by grieving relatives. Some were tearful, others numbed, watching expressionless as loved ones were bundled into vehicles and driven away to one of Delhi’s overflowing mortuaries, or the funeral pyres that now burn day and night across the Indian capital.”

Even in the darkest moments, love gives hope. 

Love compels us to fight against coronavirus alongside our sisters and brothers living in poverty.

Love compels us to stand together in prayer with our neighbours near and far.

Love compels us to give and act as one. 

Now, it is clear that our futures are bound together more tightly than ever before. 

As we pray in our individual homes – around the nation and around the world – we are united as one family.

So, let us pause and find a moment of peace, as we lift up our hearts together in prayer.                         ( A prayer from the well-known UK charity Christian Aid)

And a reflection from India’s great poet and visionary Rabindranath.Tagore This reflection comes from Tagore’s prose/poem Gitanjali. I hope it speaks to you as it does to me.

** I had gone a-begging from door to door in the village path when thy golden chariot appeared in the distance like a gorgeous dream and I wondered who was this King of all kings! My hopes rose high and me thought my days of penury were at an end, and I stood waiting for alms to be given unasked and for wealth to be scattered on all sides in the dust. The chariot stopped where I stood. Thy glance fell on me and then came down with a smile. I felt that the luck of my life had come at last. Then of a sudden thou didst hold out they right hand and say, ‘What hast thou to give to me?’ Ah, what kingly jest was it to open they palm to a beggar to beg! I was confused and stood undecided, and then from my folded cloth I slowly took out the least little grain of corn and gave it to thee. But how great my surprise when at the day’s end I emptied my cloth on the floor to find a least little grain of gold among the poor heap! I bitterly wept and wished that I had had the heart to give thee my all. **

From Collected Poems and Plays of Rabindranath Tagore - Macmillan, London 1985. This book was first printed in 1936 and reprinted very often after that date. Many of Tagore’s books are still in print and are read worldwide.

The squirrel’s heart-beat:

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all human life, in its joys and sorrows, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should hear that amazingly rich song of humanity which lies on the other side of silence. (Adapted by me from a passage in Middlemarsh by George Eliot)

The long journey:

As we think of the task facing all those seeking to heal our planet and to walk alongside all those in suffering I am reminded of some words of Christina Rossetti…’ does the road wind uphill all the way? Yes, to the very end. Will the day’s journey take the whole long day? From morn till night, my friend.”   pm.

May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow. May the soft winds freshen your spirit. May the sunshine brighten your heart. May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you and may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.  (A Celtic Blessing for us all)