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May It Be Done to Me According to Your Will – Part I

By Fr. Dr. Daniel Johnson

The Day I Learned to Make Perfectly Round Aloo Paratas!

Word has reached you that your dear grandmother is nearing the end of their life here on earth. You pack your bags and get on the train to travel to your grandmother’s house. All throughout the night on the train, you kept on thinking about her life, her words (even though very few) and her prayer life. The doctors have given only 2 more weeks to live, and somehow you want to spent those last days of her life on earth caring & remembering your grandmother.

Everyone who remembered your dadima the same thing about her. One – her words always pointed to Jesus, her beloved one (as she called Him). ‘Tell Him everything, my dear’, she would always say. And secondly, always, without fail, almost predictably, without doubt, she would remind them about the life and great example of the holy Theotokos. In fact, you always thought that your grandmothers baptismal name – Mary, was no coincidence. Her life was modelled after Mary, the mother of Jesus. She always found strength in the life which the holy Theotokos lived. She would always ask St. Mary to intercede for her in all her prayers.

‘Didi, why are you smiling while cooking?’ You were making aloo parata’s in dadima’s kitchen when Balu, your 19 year old nephew asked the question. You didn’t realize, but you were smiling remembering that one time when (when you were your nephew’s age) and dadima was teaching you to make aloo paratas. Her paratas always seemed to come out perfectly round, while yours looked like the different countries of the world! When you were complaining at your lack of skill (after having made a parata which looked like the Indian map), dadima said – ‘beta, maybe Jesus wants the person who eats this parata to pray for India!’ You both laughed, but dadima had a knack of making lessons out of every incident!

Beta, do you remember the first thing which Mother Mary said? You tried to think, but couldn’t remember since you were trying to make the Indian looking parata more like the shape of Sri Lanka! ‘May it be done to me according to Your will’. That was the first thing Mother Mary said. Do you realize Mary was younger than you at that time beta? Really, she was, you asked surprised? Yes, beta, she was maybe around 14 or 15 years only.

But when the angel came and told her that she would become a mother, and that too without marriage, imagine her surprise and shock. But she didn’t run away, cry or feel discouraged. But she accepted it. You had an uneasy feeling that dadima was going to bring up your marriage too – after all, isn’t that what grandmothers do! But she didn’t bring it up. Rather she said – beta, everyone wants to know God’s will for their life. But they don’t prepare their hearts to receive it. It’s like this dough beta; you must knead it and make it soft enough that, so that you can make it into any shape, round or like – Bangladesh, looking at my latest parata! Please remember this beta, before you ask God’s will for your life, you must be prepared to accept what God says to you.

But how do you prepare your heart to receive or accept what God wants to give me? What if I don’t like what God wants to give me (in my mind you were thinking about some marriage proposal which could come in the future!)

Beta, do you remember that time when we both planted aloo garden? Yes, of course I do. This aloo is from there – holding up an aloo from dadima’s kitchen table. What was the first thing we did beta? We dug up the ground and cleared it, you replied. Yes exactly, said dadima excitedly. If the aloo had to really grow well, you needed to take away the stones, weeds, rocks, and make sure the soil was softened enough to accept the aloo. It’s all in the soil – right dadima?! Yes, beta, it’s all in the way the soil is prepared. Otherwise the aloo will not grow well. Your heart is just like that too beta. It has lots of hard areas – areas, where we think we know best for our lives and we don’t want to listen and give in. We need help to soften those areas. And the way you do that is by prayer, fasting and almsgiving. By prayer I mean, praying the Jesus Prayer often which helps us to ask for God’s mercy in our lives. And by fasting – when we deliberately avoid too much food and other luxuries, and spent more time in prayer. And finally by looking for opportunities to help those around us.

So if you are thinking about whom to marry, (obviously grandmothers can read minds!), first thing you need to do is to pray, fast and do the works of help. Then as your heart is prepared to receive or accept anything from God, you will find peace in your heart when the time comes for marriage.

Look, look – my parata did come out round (almost!) I was so excited; but my dadima was the proud one. She looked like an angel to me. ‘May it be done according to your will, dadima!’ I said and both of us laughed out loud!

From that time on, I could make perfectly round aloo paratas Balu!

Click here to read part 2 of this article.

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