… Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one and wild precious life?
A song and wishes for you. Pax Tecum ~ Perpetua
I really do not know much about Mother. My siblings have asked her numerous times to write her story. If she can’t write maybe she can record her memoir. They gave her a recorder. Thinking that she might do it, I have these thoughts of grandeur that it would be better than the ‘Seven Storey Mountain’ written by Thomas Merton. Hers will be the ‘Towering Thirteen Storey Mountains’ based on her thirteen children.
I found the recorder in the storage area gathering dust with an empty cassette when I was cleaning Mother’s house. Her story is forever buried with her when she died and I will never know. I wonder what kind of life she led.
In one of many retreats I attended, the voice of Fr. Jim came resonating: ‘Live your life for the benefit of others.’ I stayed with this voice and reflected upon it. For years, I ponder upon this line sinking into the cesspool of my soul not knowing that in the quagmire a lotus flower will bloom in this murky pond.
And I thought:
We are born into this life thinking that the world owes us
everything. We enter into a relationship with the hope that
our wants and needs are given to us in a silver platter
when, in fact, we are here so that others will live and
benefit from us.
This is Mother. She bloomed. It is the best description of Mother’s life amidst all the drama that she endured. However dramatic and poor her life was, we found what made her tick, a piece of paper tucked in between her paper work, a short note in her own handwriting, This is the legacy of a selfless person.
In praise of Mother, I asked my siblings to tell me a sentence or two to celebrate her life.
• She adopted Romelly & me as part of her big family. She always treated us as one of her children.
• She shared her seamstress and sewing skills with me – I made an apron with her!
• Patience and compassion are virtues which I inherited from Mother.
• Mother is a Saint.
• Mother was a great mentor.
• Mother was my inspiration.
• Mother was my Guardian Angel.
• God bless Granny for migrating to Canada with a crazy family.
• I remember her telling us to be financially independent from our husband.
• Have your own saving account; your husband doesn’t need to know about it.
• Study well because education is your way out of the “gutter”.
• I admired Mother for helping out the poor ones; giving shelter, food and money even we didn’t have enough.
• It’s nice to know that all her siblings really respected Mother and honour her. They all have good things to say about her.
• Mother’s last words to me: “Go home, everything will be all right.” Come to think of it how true those words are! I think what she meant by that is: “Not to worry too much about the future because GOD is in control.”
I could go on and on and on….
It was fifteen years ago Mother died. For as long as we remember her, she is not really dead. Her spirit lives on, stronger than ever continuously providing us love and guidance when we need it the most.
As we enter the Holy Sepulcher, there lies a slab of stone where Jesus’ dead body was laid. The Orthodox priests anoint the stone with rose scented oil, walking around it as they say their prayers and holding an incense burner.
What an experience to stand in this Holy Ground. It feels surreal as if I am in a dream.
Standing still and watching the people touching the stone; embracing it with their body; pouring their tears; wiping their scarf to absorb the rose oil; I can only imagine seeing a dead body lying on the stone.
How does one treat a dead body after they have done so much injustice to an ordinary man with extraordinary teaching?
With this question in mind, I wrote my notes to file meditating on a body: alive or dead.
Be careful of these eyes they are the sight that gazed lovingly on the grandeur of God’s creation. Be careful of these ears they are the receiver of God calling me in the quiet. Be careful of this nose it is the breath of life I take in breath in ease, breath out disease. Be careful of this mouth it holds the lips and tongue that speaks the truth about God. Be careful of these hands for they hold and embrace give and receive the Gift of God. Be careful of these feet for they follow the footsteps of saints and sinners returning to God. Be careful of this heart for here God lives within me loving everything that God created.
My thoughts are collections of other people’s thoughts. There is no need for me to rewrite the story. They are good as they are. The following writings are thoughts from ordinary people who do extraordinary work that help shape my faith. The photos are mine.
Passion is a kind of waiting – waiting for what other people are going to do. Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the good news to the people of that city. And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them: Will you be my disciple, or will you be my executioner? There is no middle ground here. Jesus went to Jerusalem to put people in a situation where they had to say “Yes” or “No”. That is the great drama of Jesus’ passion: he had to wait for their response. What would they do? Betray him or follow him?
In a way, his agony is not simply the agony of approaching death. It is also the agony of being out of control and of having to wait. It is the agony of a God who depends on us to decide how to live out the divine presence among us. It is the agony of the God who, in a very mysterious way, allows us to decide how God will be God. Here we glimpse the mystery of God’s incarnation. God became human not only to act among us but also to be the recipient of our responses. ~ Henri Nouwen
The intention to be in the presence of God and attention on our prayer leads to awareness, conscious awareness of our true self. A preoccupation with the material world has clouded our perception: we are what we are aware of. To be able to ‘know’ God presupposes a deep connection between humanity and the Divine. We can only truly ‘know’ something, when we have something in common. The beauty is that this commonality does not depend on belief, it can be experienced. Through meditation we become aware of our Divine connection and hence our essential goodness, which changes our whole perception of ourselves and others, and thus our life. That is why John Main saw meditation as “a process of liberation, we must set these truths free in our lives.” ~ Brother Lawrence Freeman
We pray… when in the very ‘chamber’ of our soul we harbour just one thought and ‘with sighs too deep for words’ invoke the Father, who is already present while we are still speaking. ~ Clement of Alexandria
So welcome mystical experience when/if it comes, but don’t measure your life by it, judging yourself neither as a spiritual hero nor loser. What matters is letting the awareness of your inherent union with God flow into every part of your life. The only way to do this is to die to self, as Jesus did, though for us it happens slowly, steadily, day-by-day through contemplation and letting go. ~ Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” Why didn’t Glinda tell Dorothy that at the very beginning? Of course, if Glinda did there would be no story, no journey – and the journey is the very point of the story. At the beginning of the story Dorothy is not ready to move into the next stage of her life until she has discovered that she already has the virtues her three companions on the journey seem to lack: courage, intelligence, and love. The journey becomes the venue to reveal to herself that she is ready for what lays ahead. It is only possible because she took the long way home.
Dorothy discovered that the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche got at least one thing right: that which does not kill us makes us stronger. She had lots of setbacks, any one of which might have led her to toss in the towel. I think each one of us can take a longer perspective on our lives and recount the setbacks: the loves lost, that-thing-we-wish-we-hadn’t-said, the road we should have taken, the moment that passed by, the days, the nights, all stirred together in the cauldron called life. And yet like Dorothy we found a reason to continue on, even if it was simply the momentum of the moment. The older I become, the more I appreciate the struggles, failures, successes, and all that lays between the milestones on the long journey of this life. ~ Fr. George Corrigan, OFM
Walking down from Mount Olives is Palm Sunday road, a road that Jesus took riding a donkey. It’s downhill and I saw this man and his donkey. They must be exhausted doing business with pilgrims like me to experience where Jesus walked.
Lent can be exhausting especially when I don’t want to give up something that I ‘like’. It’s a similar feeling to making New Year’s resolution. Knowing quite well that I detest doing it and I set myself up for failure.
I do it anyway to remember that I need discipline in my life. Should I have failed, there’s always a do over.
The awareness of fear awakens and alerts my senses in what I can do in the ordinary life I live so that I experience how extraordinary it is. I think this is one of the pointers of Lent even though I am particularly unprepared.
Being a seeker and a believer, I know my personal God will direct me. My ego has no place for Lenten practice, thus I abandoned it.
I abandoned Facebook at the beginning of the year. It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution, it’s because I can and have no need for being ‘liked’.
Feeling more courageous, I removed the ‘like’ button in this blog. That is much harder to take when the scene of Sally Fields acceptance speech as the best actress of the year keep playing in mind “You like me, you really like me!”
Death to the Ego! Die! Die! Die…
Such an ordinary method that created an extraordinary awareness. I got it.
I suppose this is what Lent really means. Dying to oneself.