Saturday, 23 March 2013

Courage in the Night

When you last looked up at the night sky hanging above you, did you notice the stars or was it a cloudy night? Or perhaps, you do not remember because you did not focus on what is up there?

The night and its darkness hold different meanings to different species in the animal kingdom, and evoke different emotions in different people. 

But far more than the exterior, we sometimes find ourselves engulfed in a darkness that exists within our hearts and lives. A darkness that does not quite come and go as predictably as the regular giving way of the night to the day (even across seasons!). A night as cold and long as the Antarctic winter. A night in which some have somehow erected such a gigantic floodlight to overpower the darkness with the loudness of its light, creating an unnatural and false brightness that never grows dim, and thus, a world that fakes the absence of darkness. 

The night reveals to us what lies hidden in the day but nonetheless remains, undoubtedly, a reality of our world. The night reveals to us the stars that occupy the universe insofar as we keep our floodlights switched off. While the stars in the sky form a beautiful sight, what is made visible to us in our interior darkness form, more often than not, the ugliest sight we would rather shun away from or make invisible by covering them up with our floodlights.

Yet, to be made increasingly perfect in Christ, to be trekking along this tedious and arduous route towards our life's destination, we need, more so, the courage and sensibility to accept and remain in the dark and observe all that is shining out and calling for our attention. Be it a relationship not mended, a hurt not forgiven, an encouragement or word of thanks not uttered. 

In a nutshell, what are the things that are causing you and I that lousy, prickly, uncomfortable, heavy feeling that we seem to be dragging helplessly around across night and day? How have we been reacting to these "stars" that are shining at us, calling for our attention and action? Will our choice be to embark seriously on a reflection on those "stars" or to turn up the floodlights, surround my life with the awesome and powerful "Dolby sound system" that may be disguised as working overtime to finish my work, sleeping excessively, meeting up with friends everyday for a sumptuous meal to "pamper" myself...? All these distractions fake the "stars'" absence and it is natural to slowly but surely forget their existence altogether.

In every darkness, there is a star or more to be noticed and studied by the astrologers. In every dark spot of our lives lie a blockage to be noticed, dug into and ironed out, and which keeps out our peace and joy until the channel is cleared. 

The thing is... How courageous do we want to be in the darkness of our lives?

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A New Presence

This afternoon, I attended the wake of my former student, who has been in a coma for a little over a year. His sister came over to me. We've met just a few times when I visited at the hospice. She said she's a little sad. I found myself saying to her, "Kor kor will still be seeing you... from heaven. And you'll still get to see him. Just that, this time, you'll see him in your heart."A new way of being present to each other. No longer physically but in spirit. The same person, the same love, the same importance and intimate relationship, taking on a different form of be-ing.

Partings are never easy when one shares in a deep relationship with the other. And I believe it was the same for the apostles and the women we see in the Gospels in the time between Jesus' death and resurrection; the sudden dramatic departure of their Master brought them a deep sadness and loss. But there came the Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost. 

In this series of events, the apostles and the faithful women had to allow the presence of Jesus in their lives to take on a new form. Moving from the familiarity of His physical presence with them before His death, then seeing Him in a form they could not recognise as in the case of Mary Magdalene outside the empty tomb and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, recognising Him in their hearts as their " hearts burn within... as he talked... on the road and explained the scriptures..." (Lk 24:32)  and thereafter, being sent forth in mission, during which, in spreading the good news, in founding the Church of Christ, in continuing the legacy of their Master, they went beyond the need for His physical presence. For this presence is more than within their physical space; Jesus began to live anew in their hearts and is present in the very work they did, in their very lives, and even becomes the purpose for their living. They became truly one in union with their beloved Master, and what deeper union can there be?

Rome and Assisi are two very special places to me. I have been blessed to visit each twice. I asked myself if I need to go back again. It would be nice if I had the chance to but if I don't, that's alright too. I have come to understand that a physical absence does not mean that they now become any less dear to me or that I feel a weakening connection with them. They have taken a different form of presence in my life and more so, my love for them grows and concretise. They are now deeply and permanently embedded in a very special space in my heart. Whenever I get in touch with their presence in my heart, I am reconnected in a nostalgic reminiscing, treasuring with a grateful heart the spiritual transformation in those encounters which have shaped me into the person I am today. 

To be separated is not making smaller or less significant a person, a love or a relationship. 

Are there people in your life you hold really dear to you? And perhaps, for some reason, you are called to let go of an old way of being in relationship with this person so as to embrace the new? 
What was your response?