Life is a sand clock of rich and poor;
The sand flows not in vain.
It is turned over and filled once more—
What you give returns again.
-from the Christmas Sand Clock story
I went to my desk the morning of Christmas Eve to find that somehow our beloved sand clock glass had broken. I was about to throw it away when I fished it out again thinking I might be able to make a dramatic photo using it.
Sand clocks have always held a fascination with me, especially this one. It was a gift to my wife last Christmas meant to represent ‘the gift of spending time together’. It also reminded me of a story and play I had written based around the symbolism of the sand clock.
I thought nothing more about it and went to my job that day at a corporate Christmas event as Santa Claus. As I was going around the offices and taking photos with the employees and their children, I spied an exquisite large sand clock in one office. We entered and took photos there with all the small children standing on top of the manager’s desk. I remarked to him how superb the sand clock looked and its significance to me. “I use it to make sure meetings are kept to less than 30 minutes,” he replied.
“Did you get it in India?” I asked, hoping to replace my broken one. “Yes, I’ll give you the address where I bought it.” I was making my exit, when he had a sudden inspiration. He handed me the sand clock with a smile that rivaled Saint Nick and told me, “This is a Christmas gift from me to you.” I felt the Lord also had something to do with it as well. I thanked him profusely and after explaining how much it meant to me, promised to send him my Christmas sand clock story.
I came home with my new sand clock in hand, bubbling over to tell my story. It was about midnight before I arrived in our parking lot from a nearly 2 hour journey across town. To my surprise, my daughter’s team and another caroling team arrived in the parking lot at precisely the same moment – to the second. It was a good thing, because only one of us had the key to the house. If anyone had come earlier they would have had to wait outside. Three cars from different locations and times, arriving at the exact same minute! What were the chances of that happening? I started to run the odds in my head and quit at googolplex to one. There is no way anyone could ever pull off such a feat even if you arranged it before hand – especially in the mad mayhem of Mumbai traffic.
So what does that have to do with my gifted sand clock? I wasn’t exactly sure but like a detective, I felt somehow there was some connection. After pondering it further I came to the conclusion that they were both examples of a power behind the scenes that cared about the details concerning my life. I mulled over the amazing events that had unfolded. Was it all a ‘coincidence’? The same day I broke our beloved sand clock, I was given a much better one? And what about our simultaneous arrival? It was all too wonderful to have been by chance. If not by chance, then what was it?
I thought of other examples of the miraculous – the Shroud of Turin, finding Noah’s Ark, the Star of Wonder of the Nativity and the signs in the heavens that accompanied His birth. It seems in all these, there is always some margin for you to ‘take it or leave it’. In all the evidence for and against miracles, it always comes down to personal choice and faith – the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For some, these ‘coincidences’ are just random events that they brush over and continue on their way. I too could have dismissed both of the incidents of that Christmas Eve as mere random ‘good luck’.
But when looking back I remembered other Christmas’ – like the one where the butterfly fluttered into our living room just as we were all gathered around the tree and stayed all day (see photo right), and many other times when things just seemed to click like the tumblers of a safe that is opened. I take it by faith that God loves me and is concerned about showing me in the details of these occurrences.
It reminds me of a huge tapestry that reveals the beautiful picture, while keeping us wondering how it was made. Sometimes, a thread or two stands out and is revealed of the Master Weaver’s warp and weft.
Most of the time I don’t see what God is doing behind the scenes, and sometimes it is baffling what He is up to, but it is a wonderful boost to my faith when miracles happen to me like they did this Christmas Eve. It is at times like these that I get a glimpse of His handiwork in the stars, while being a silly Santa, or in a broken and gifted sand clock.