Sid and I recently watched “Lion”, a wonderful film based on the true story of a boy from India who gets lost at a very young age, adopted by parents in Tasmania, and ultimately reunited with his mother. If you haven’t seen the movie, you may want to wait to read the rest of this Shabbat encouragement for it is even more of a spoiler than already indicated.
The story is quite moving as we engage in the angst of a small child who falls asleep on a train that ends up in Calcutta, a two and a half day trip from his home. No one understands his language, and consequently, where is his home. This heartbreaking situation is a result of his older brother, himself looking like a pre or young teen, losing little Saroo at the train station where the older child hopes to find night work. We quickly are drawn into the immense poverty of the single mother home where each earns money by carrying rocks. LIttle Saroo, who looks no more than four or five years old, is so very proud that he, too, can carry heavy pieces of coal and rocks to exchange for milk so the family does not starve.
We see many examples of how much Saroo’s mother relied on her older son to take care of the younger and we ultimately learn that on the very day that Saroo gets lost (for 25 years!), his older brother is killed accidentally on the same train track that transported the train that carried away his sleeping little brother. What a devastating day that must have been for their mother who lived all those years thinking that both of her sons were dead, knowing that one was for sure. Her younger son had endured years of unsettled identity not knowing where he came from and what had become of his biological family. His adoptive parents had no information that could help solve this decades long mystery nor reveal the secrets of his origin.
When Saroo finds his mother at the end of the movie, it feels as though a terrible wrong has been righted. A toxic secret of not knowing one’s identity is revealed. Not only the obvious reunion occurs, but also, Saroo’s mother has had all those years to think about her decision to prematurely burden her older son as a de facto father to his little brother. Perhaps over the years she repented of that decision, only to be blessed in later life with the rediscovered love from her lost baby boy, relieved by the knowledge that he is alive and has had a wonderful life. He, too, then could feel complete, his longing to reconnect to his childhood home and finding his mother filling an emptiness that had plagued him as he never knew who he really was.
We think these are just stories, just entertainment. Yet even though Sid and I had tried to watch this movie three times over the last several months, each time falling asleep (not because it isn’t a good movie, but rather, we just would start it too late), it was finally on this “random” evening that we were able to see it to the end. And this time, we just “happened” to be with our dear friends Phil and Connie, fellow prayer warriors. As the last movie credit finished, at that very moment, I received a text from one of my dearest friends whose life is like a parallel of Saroo’s. Although the facts are different, the subliminal yearning to reconnect with her biological father is the same, she, too, seeking this relationship as an adult, and also facing daunting obstacles. Sadly, her biological father had kept the fact that she is his daughter a toxic secret, not wanting his family to know he had fathered another child, a fact that had occurred over 50 years ago! This man was living a dishonest life all those years, and one that was not just affecting him.
At the very moment we finished the movie, my friend texted me, then called to say her son had just reached out to her biological father’s son, who of course didn’t even know my friend was his half sister, and that he was going to talk to his dad about why this was never known. Through Facebook, a lifelong wrong committed by my friend’s father was about to be righted, if not voluntarily by him, then by this social media facilitated turn of events.
So how are these stories and events connected? And why do they seem so impactful when they do? When synchronistic timings like this occur, it’s as if HaShem wants to remind us He is here, intimately, in our lives. When my friend contacted me just at that very moment, the development in her life so clearly a parallel to the story we had just seen, it brought God into the conversation. Her fear that her father’s health may not be strong enough to withstand the shock of this development was calmed as we could see that HaShem was orchestrating the revelation of her and her family’s existence to her biological father’s family. God was in it with her.
We could see this revelation had the possibility for redemption and reconciliation of a lifelong wrong, just as Saroo’s mother no longer needed to live with the horrid guilt of playing a part in the premature death of presumably both sons. HaShem brought her back a son. Perhaps she had suffered enough. Perhaps my friend has suffered enough. Perhaps there is hope for my friend’s father to face and work through a horrible wrong he has perpetrated by his silence that can be made right as he nears the end of his life. Not to mention that the timing of the whole chain of events allowed all of us, including Phil and Connie, to be together in part by phone and in person at that moment to be able to pray together for the situation. No matter what the reaction by her father, a terrible wrong has been righted, and at least the actions of his son, who is reaching out to his newly discovered family, are bringing redemption into the story. A day has passed and I’ve just learned even my friend’s father is relieved that the truth is out. Truly a miraculous happening.
It so often feels as if our lives are being played out on an infinite, multi-dimensional chess board with our Abba orchestrating or reacting to all the connected “free will” moves/choices. Even the horrible losses we experience over lifetimes and into eternity come full circle, each move we make, and how we handle the moves of others that we are subjected to, having the potential to bring us closer to Him. Life’s chess board is even more awe inspiring when filled with fellow brothers and sisters in Yeshua with whom we share the blessed journey.
As we start this beautiful New Year, I pray that you, too, will become even more attuned to our interconnectedness, experiencing through our redemptive interactions with others the lessons we and those we touch are to learn.