Be Careful

Stone where Jesus's dead body was laid for anointing of the oil (Holy Sepulcher)

Stone where Jesus’ dead body was laid for anointing of the oil (Holy Sepulcher)

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.

Going Home – Thoughts of In between

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.

Entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday Walk: Kidron Valey

Entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday Walk: Kidron Valley

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

As we entered Jerusalem, these are the steps where Jesus walked.

As we entered Jerusalem, these are the steps where Jesus walked.

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

It's a long way home. Destination the black dome called Holy Sepucher

It’s a long way home. Destination the black dome called Holy Sepulcher faintly visible.

 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

This the hole where Jesus was lowered down as a holding cell.

This is the chamber hole where they lowered Jesus down as a holding cell.

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

Going Home: My shadow walking the Palm Sunday Walk

Going Home: My shadow walking the Palm Sunday Walk

“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

Dying to oneself.

Palm Sunday WalkWalking 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.

What Lies Behind the Wall

Mary Magdelene's churchHere I stood at Mount Olive, I could see the structure behind the wall with onion shaped golden dome. It’s calling me and I wanted to visit the place but it’s not part of our itinerary.

Long after I came back from pilgrimage, I found out what this place is from watching The Passionate Eye’s episodes: The Queens Mother-In-Law. It’s a bizarre documentary of Prince Philips’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, you can watch here.

What I find more fascinating is that this is a Church of Mary Magdalene and where Princess Alice is buried.

Having a profound affinity for Mary Magdalene as the first female follower of Jesus and knowing that Princess Alice overcame mental illness, there is much to say about having deep abiding faith and religious belief.

PRAYER TO SAINT MARY MAGDALENE
Saint Mary Magdalene, woman of many sins, who by conversion became the beloved of Jesus, thank you for your witness that Jesus forgives through the miracle of love.

You, who already possess eternal happiness in His glorious presence, please intercede for me, so that some day I may share in the same everlasting joy.

Amen.

An Open Wall

Wall St. Stephen's Gate

 

This is more than a crack on the wall, it’s one of the gates of Jerusalem called St. Stephen’s Gate or Lion’s Gate.

I spent more time on the walls of the gate, soaking up the atmosphere, listening to the walls, watching people go by, alone.

My main reason for searching for this gate is to show to my friend who was utterly disgusted by the history of what Saul did to Stephen. As much as I tried to reason with her that it was a said incident in history, I am not condoning the act.

The act, the barbaric act that happened was the stoning of Stephen to death by order of Saul. Saul terrorized the Christians. Stephen became the first Christian martyr.

For every offence, there is redemption. Saul became a convert to Christianity and became St. Paul.

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4, NIV)

When Saul asked who was speaking to him, the voice replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:5-6, NIV)

It is a sad story. I must stop here now for I am feeling emotional.