Friday, March 09, 2007

The Grace of Pain

To celebrate the end of the Writer's Workshop here in Hyderabad, India, we had a special guest: the recently retired head of police for the entire Andhra Pradesh state, a region with a population of 80 million people. Tightly muscled with a steel jaw and eyes like lightning, he entered the banquet hall amid a cadre of bodyguards toting machine guns. Just last week the Naxalite terrorists assassinated a government official near here. The guards had come to protect our guest, but when you met him, he didn't appear to be a man who needed protection from anyone.

I've never in my life met a man who exuded more confidence and poise, whose presence alone spoke with so much authority. During his career he served in the military and the police throughout India, from one end to the other--fighting the Communists on one front and then terrorists on another. And yet, he was remarkably approachable. He joked with me about enjoying basketball and playing a team from the U.S. with his law enforcement friends. "We were evenly matched, of course," he said. "They were all six-foot eight and we were all five-foot eight."

But the most striking thing wasn't his composure and strength, or even his gentle sense of humor, but his words as he spoke during the ceremony. After telling us about his favorite books he mentioned some of his work experiences and said in passing, "I am thankful that God has been kind enough to send a lot of pain into my life."

When the program was finished, I asked him about his words and he nodded slowly, thoughtfully. "I have had many hardships in my life. At one time I was transferred 20 times in 22 years. Always moving with my family. I think of my life like the story of Job. But God has always grown something good. My children and grandchildren are wonderful, and I am thankful."

Powerful words from a powerful man.


gypsy said...

hi steve, this is Shruti, from writers workshop.

even i loved his statement about how he was thankful for a hard life. i am very sure, many lives here have been touched and changed because of your presence, within and beyond the workshop. take good care


Anonymous said...

Hi steve,every person you meet,you learn something.Interaction with you and others has changed my perspective of writing and telling stories. Today morning I was telling my son about the story of the python in the zoo and how you scared everyone. He enjoyed. We have wonderful stories but I have never met a professional story teller in India.

Radhika from writer's workshop.Best wishes to your family.

Bailey said...

I just wanted to say that what I think you're doing is great. I spent some time in Guatemala and God changed my life forever. In spite of all their hardship, Guatamalans are beautiful people with beatiful souls.

Also, I noticed you desire to run on the beaches of Portugal. I kinda chuckled when I read that. I just returned from Lisbon, Portugal where I lived for 6 months on the mission field. It's an amazing place- unknown to so many. I hope you and your family have the opportunity to go there some day.

Logophile said...

I am currently reading Sailing Between the Stars and enjoying it.
I read down to the beginning of your blog and have to tell you that I hope you will continue.
I've never heard the NW compared to eastern Tennessee, but I'm glad you felt like you fit in.

Panda said...

Hi Steve! Just finished Sailing between the stars - great book, might like to publish that one in Dutch too. Just a little question: do you ever reply to a comment or are you too busy writing your next book? ;-)