Sandu (holy man) Sundar Singh
At morning prayer today we read of Sundar Singh of India, commemorated this day. He was born into a wealthy Sikh family and after experiencing a vision as a young man was converted to Christianity. He travelled widely as an evangelist, and one very sensitive to the cultural and religious life of the areas of the Indian sub-continent and Tibet in which he journeyed. His autobiography and other writings are still widely read. He wrote:
In Christ I have found what Hinduism and Buddhism could not give me: peace and joy in this world. People do not believe because they are strangers to the experience. Once when I was wandering about in the Himalayas, in the region of eternal snow and ice, I came upon some hot springs, and I told a friend about them. He would not believe it. ‘How can there be hot springs in the midst of snow and ice?’ he said. I replied, ‘Come and dip your hands in the water, and you will see that I am right.’ He came, dipped his hands in the water, felt the heat and believed. Then he said, ‘There must be a fire in the mountain.’ So after he had been convinced by experience his brain began to help him understand the matter. Faith and experience must come first, and understanding will follow. We cannot understand until we have some spiritual experience, and that comes through prayer…… Those who have seen Christ have no difficulty in understanding miracles. The great miracle is to receive life, to know the truth, to find heaven on earth.
(quotation from Celebrating the Saints enlarged edition 2004, compiled and introduced by Robert Atwell, pages 332 and 333)