Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tender Coconut

First, have a compound where coconut trees are abundant. Our dear friend Dr G.S. Nair - the same man who took in around 50 frightened children after the tsunami of 2004 - started a Bible college and training centre in Trivandrum over 30 years ago, and on this campus he also grew coconut trees.

This week we had the great privilege of attending the college's graduation conference and exercises. Dad spoke a number of times. And in the evenings the guest speakers and hangers-on (what else could Debs and I be classified as, really?!) were treated to dinner in the President's Prayer Hut - a little thatched room where people can meet throughout the year with Dr Nair and with God.

One night we were sitting eating our dinner when a student showed up with a couple of coconuts that he had retrieved and cut open. He poured coconut water decorously into glasses and served us. There was a quartet of Americans at the conference who eyed the beverage dubiously. Dr Nair, sensing their hesitance and seeing an opportunity to introduce a fresh flavour and colour to our lives, called for a couple more coconuts and genially demonstrated how drinking from a coconut should be done:

And then he split open a coconut to reveal its tender flesh - the best part of all in a "tender coconut," as it's called.

He called over Debs and asked her if she would like to have it.

Would she! After a year where coconut means either dessicated or coconut milk from a can or hard coconut, Debs was more than delighted to finish up the demonstration:

Dr Nair has some of the characteristics of those tender coconuts. He stands straight and tall, like those coconut trees do, and he gives of himself generously, to any and all who are truly in need. He is tough on the outside, but tender as can be where it counts, his heart. 

He gives himself to other people without reservation and without holding anything back. He is the same at the college as he is at home, the same when he is speaking to high-up government officials or lowly people on the street. His charismatic personality goes ahead of him so that when he enters a room he encounters no strangers.

He was a student at the College in Bangalore when I was a young child. He was in and out of our home, working and laughing and sharing and learning from and with Mum and Dad. We thought he was the coolest man on campus.

What a privilege now that we are grown be able to come out to Trivandrum three years in a row and to stay in the Nair home with G.S., his lovely wife, Sarah, and two of his daughters and their husbands, not to mention Jabez and Jono, two of the sweetest natured children you could ever hope to meet - I have a strong suspicion that they take after their 'Appachi' in many ways.

We left Trivandrum yesterday evening. Debs and I miss him, miss the campus and the home, miss all that he represents to our Dad, already.


  1. How like you, Karyn dear, to take so many experiences in your life and turn them into blessing those of us who were not privileged to be there with you. When I read your blog posts, my heart is constantly warmed and challenged to follow after Jesus with ALL my heart and in ALL my circumstances and experiences. In ALL the chances and changes of life.

    I love you, dear friend and I love how much I see of Jesus in your every day life.


  2. Karyn, I really wished I lived in Trivandrum as I read your post. Not because of the coconut ...! But because of the spirit of love and community and faith and holding to truth and grace, shown by brother Nair.
    Then I read Rosalie's lovely comment and thought, that's what's at the heart of it, and it can happen anywhere.
    Thank you both!

  3. Thanks Karyn -- what a refreshing start to an otherwise overcast Monday morning. Odd, lonely, snowflakes drift past the window, looking for the ground like disjointed memories looking for my heart.


I love to hear from you! Please leave me a leaf to read ...