I recently got acquainted with this girl for my project work. She is sweet, polite and some-what oblivious to many new things (like technology, etc). At the same time, she is very street smart. A thing about her that caught my attention the most was that she prays before every meal that she has. We’ve been having lunch together everyday, and before she digs in, she takes a minute to close her eyes and pray to her god – Jesus. Today, I asked her what she says in her prayer. She said she thanks Jesus for the food, asks him to take care of her family and friends, asks him to help the poor, and thanks him for everything in general.

I felt very uneasy at that moment not knowing how to react and just smiled. I would generally think like this – thank my dad for his job for that provides money to my family (and thus becomes the source of my lunch money), humans take care of other humans (so I should take care of my parents and vice versa) and accept the reality of the world (poverty, hunger, draught, inflation, etc). But then, I got thinking – she is smart and well educated to be aware of the world. Why would she feel the need to escape? How could she actually believe that Jesus had only 23 chromosomes (she really told me this!) especially having studied biology in such depth? The answer is – religion is not as feeble as we think it is. Sometimes, people have the need to rely on something -or someone- to convince themselves that hope and faith can be powerful. They are not delusional. They are aware and wide awake. If praying gives them strength, so be it. If religion lessens their burdens, so be it.

I have never been a very religious person (except when I think praying to ‘god’ is the last resort to make something really happen). I don’t get the idea of having to pray to some supernatural being for the food we consume or the clothes we wear. I guess I’m just grateful for my folks for having the luxuries that I have. I am not against any religious people or their beliefs, I just don’t agree with them. We did have such prayers in school in the mornings and before lunch breaks. Everybody just lets go of such things once they move on in life. But I have a sense of respect and appreciation for those who stick on to it. It takes a lot to be regularly dedicated to something, let alone your religion. Even if it’s something that’s as simple as praying.

The tradition of praying in the mornings and before meals exists in many families even today. I think it teaches people to respect things and other beings. It teaches them to have compassion and appreciate the things they have in life. I have reality checks about these things too, but never through religion. I may never follow it, but seeing someone else humbly follow it doesn’t disturb me. Everyone has different ways to cope with the world.