Friday, 27 September 2013

The Song of the Flightless Chicken

A young chicken laments to God...

God, I will spend my every day and every night complaining to You. And at times, I might even be so mad at You that I'll scold You. 

You have made me the least of all birds, with wings that cannot take me as high as the soaring Eagles, with legs too short to run fast like the Emus, with such plain-coloured feathers that look like a complete disgrace beside the Peacocks, a shame before the splendid colours of the Lories.

You have made my eggs fragile while the ostrich's can withstand the weight of a full grown man. My feet cannot take me gracefully across the waters like the swans or even my closer counterparts - the Ducks. You have given me no long beaks to savour the sweetness of nectar nor a hook to tear the meat of a fresh catch. No intelligence and good vocals to mimic sounds and speak like a Parrot or to sing like the Nightingale. 

No sharp vision to hunt in the night like the Owls, no flippers to shoot me through the ocean waters like the Penguins. I am without the elegance of the Flamingo and even the Sparrow's chirp that adds a pleasant music to a prayer space reminds me of my crow that sounds like Your creation-gone-wrong.

You have indeed made me the least of all birds and if that is not enough, my kind has become Man's daily diet. And even this is not enough to satisfy Your cruel desires for You have given Man the freedom to abuse me and rob me of my dignity. They cage me up in such a space they would call inhumane if they were similarly treated. They take away all my eggs and demand of me to grow faster than I can. They want my meat to be thick for the platter and when I cannot deliver to their expectations, they force into me the chemicals that make my body no longer what it should be. When the bird flu breaks out, they kill my family without blinking their eyes, which look upon me as a terror just because I am not on the brink of extinction. Can't their intelligence find me a cure instead?

How can I then stand in Your presence to praise You? How can I join with all of creation to sing Your praise and thanksgiving? Wasn't it You who caused me to be the least since You fashioned me this way? No, I cannot acknowledge Your goodness, I will not bow down before You.

God the Father looked at the young chicken with tenderness and love, picked him up and placed him in His arms. Then, He said to the chicken...

My little one, I have not created you to be any lesser than these others. What you perceive as inferior are not inferior in my eyes but are unique and special. 

Your feet that scratch the earth for food loosens the soil for air and water to enter easily. The plants are thankful to you. Your crow is not my masterpiece-gone-wrong but a deliberate addition to the vast sounds of nature, announcing the hope of a new morn. 

I have made all things good. Yes, you too have been made good because in your nothingness, I have made you humble. If you have nothing to boast about yourself, only then can you boast about Me. And then, I will be your pride. You can walk with your head held up for I breathed life into you only because I saw that you are beautiful and worthy to be a part of my creation.

You are not my failure and I have not failed you either. You have been chosen to nourish Man's bodies with your own, and their failure to respect you does not make you any less special and dignified. It is not your failure but theirs. 

So, little one, be who you are and take your eyes off the other birds that remind you of who you are not. You are not made to be like the others. You are made to be you. Be the best in all you are made to be because to live to your fullest potential is the most beautiful song of praise and thanksgiving to the One who gave you the gift of that potential. You shall sing not with your voice but with your whole life.


Were there times you felt inferior and that God seemed to lavish His love and abundance upon others more than upon you? What is He saying to you?


inspirations on a motorbike ride around a village and a 2-seconds glimpse of a kampong chicken trying to fly up onto a higher ground

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Stop the Tantrums

Peter, the fisherman, was out at sea for a catch. An experienced fisherman he was. He sailed his fishing boat to the place where he would always enjoy a huge catch. He knew always to go back to that spot where the water was always teeming with life. However, on this night, Peter caught nothing. He was in disbelief and was disappointed. 

The next night, Peter went back to his usual spot, thinking that this night, the fishes would have returned. But it wasn't as he had thought. This continued for 2 weeks before Peter finally gave up and went in search for other good fishing locations. It was only later that he received news of a ship wreck that occurred a short distance from his favourite fishing spot. It carried with it toxic chemicals, which were released into the ocean during the wreck. This sent the marine life away from the contaminated water and it was only when Peter started to venture further from here was he able to bring in larger catches. 


Sometimes, when we are so used to visiting a certain location, a certain spot to draw life, we tend to always want to go back there because of the security and certainty we have been enjoying from always finding there what we are searching for. It becomes a place of comfort, of familiarity, of abundance. It is easy to become attached to the location, to cling on more and more as time goes by. But when a day comes when this location changes, perhaps because it no longer could give us what we had always enjoyed from it, we always find ourselves going through a period of insisting that it returned to what it was before, a period of refusing to let go.

Yet, sometimes, God does not mean for this location to be a place of permanence for us. Maybe He wants us to move on and go elsewhere. And it is a common question of why God puts us through such difficult experiences. It is never our task and ability to understand the way God works but in His wisdom, perhaps, what He means for us to learn is that nothing in this world is permanent. While we enjoy our possessions and take them to be our gods, we need to be reminded that everything is temporal, all is passing, and that only God is constant now and forever. God teaches us what is our true everlasting treasure, and the order of priorities we need to have if we are serious about seeking the truth and an eternal life.

To let go of false permanence is to free ourselves from the bondage we have with that location, with that possession. So that we are no longer trapped there but are free to move with the Spirit to where the real treasure is found.

It is undoubtedly very difficult to accept that something that was once life-giving may no longer be life-giving. For instance, a job that once filled us with excitement but has now become a dread, a relationship in which we were once happy in but has become broken and hurtful, etc.

What was life-giving before may no longer be life-giving anymore. But what is it that we really want? The location/possession or life? Is my life worth playing for? Is your life worth playing for? (see link for explanation) Sounds like a brainless question since the wisest answer is "yes"... but it is not always easy to choose life over letting go of something precious that we have lost. Yet, we can ask for the graces to love ourselves more so that we can choose life. We can ask for the grace of acceptance to accept that which is no more. Slowly, we can let go and be freed. 



Loving Jesus, dearest God,

You know best how capable I am in throwing tantrums especially when things turn out the exact opposite of my wishes. You know what is best for me while all I can do is to stubbornly cry out for what I want, even when what I want is nothing more than a ship wreck in the middle of the vast open sea, no more of that beauty it once was. 

You have picked me up and placed me in a boat, urging me to row away from the wreck to seek beauty and life elsewhere. My gratitude to You for this at this moment remains as an obligation in the logical sphere of my mind but I hope in You still that one day, I will be able to thank You from the depths of my heart. But now, dear Jesus, now, all I want to do is to relive the moments before the ship was wrecked and hope that somehow, the broken pieces may gather again, rejoin with one another, and be restored to what it was before. I know that it cannot be possible but I still hope it would be. All I want to do is to pretend that the ship was never wrecked and that I can continue to enjoy sailing in it. Again, it's impossible.

In times like these, when I am crippled by my hurt and pain, stubbornness and inordinate attachments, I have nothing in me that can possibly act according to wisdom's directions. My only hope is in You, my Lord. That while I throw my tantrums and cling on to my attachments, that You will take the rope of the boat You have set me in and pull me away from the wreck. You who walk on water and have everything as You will, pull me away from the wreck. Never mind my tantrums and immaturity because one day, I shall arrive at the greater beauty You have planned out for me, and then  I will stop my tantrums.

But let me not wait for that moment... but trust right now that this greater beauty awaits me. It will surely come because my boat is pulled by You and no other, not even myself. Turn my eyes away from the wreck, accepting it for what it is and for what it can no longer be. Help me to give up hoping for what is not possible. Not possibly because Your love for me is too great to give me what is less than perfect. Help me to accept, to let go, to trust, and to let You bring me to where You will. Help me, dear Jesus, to surrender and be free. 


Monday, 9 September 2013

A Stupid Love like Christ's

Elle and Jerald fell for each other and they were happy in each other's company. They communicated everyday and the special moments together became good memories. The relationship was going smoothly and was looking very promising until one day, Elle found out that Jerald was lying to her all these while. He actually had another sweetheart who he was making long term plans with. 

The discovery came as a complete shock to Elle, and perhaps even for Jerald, who did not seem to have any intention of being honest about what was truly real for him. Elle was devastated. So many questions ran through her mind, tears shed, so many different emotions to grapple with. Being deliberately kept in the dark, she had no clue that what she had thought was so real in her life was actually just a dream she was then being forced to wake up from. 

In her devastation, Elle decided that she could move on with her life while still loving Jerald, and that she did not have to force herself to hate him or remain angry with him. It took her a few days but eventually, she forgave Jerald for the hurt he had caused. Till the last minute, she was still hoping that he would forego the other girl for her. She was still praying for him and his well being, missing the times they spent together, while at the same time enduring the pain of the broken dreams she had for the relationship.

For any person who has a logical mind, Elle is plain stupid. I cannot understand her continued hopes for a future with a person who does not take care of her heart. I cannot understand the softness of her heart. After being completely fooled, how was it that she still refused to hate him but instead, consciously chose to forgive and love him still? Even if she does not hate him, would it not be more logical for her to keep him out of her mind and heart, and not even think of him at all? How could she continue to open her heart to him and desire to be in a relationship with him?

But for a person who has chosen love - and love is a choice, not a feeling - the heart is always the dominating and ruling party. While Elle's mind can rationalise and list out all the flaws of Jerald and conclude that he is not worth her love, this is not how the heart functions. The heart is incapable of judging, incapable of rationalising. The heart is only capable of love. And when one chooses to love, one chooses to operate from the heart. But the big risk of doing this is that the heart is made completely vulnerable and subjected to being hurt. 

And yet, is this not a resemblance of God's love? The illogical God I have come to know? I, too, cannot understand God's love for mankind. I cannot understand His love for me and His continued desire to be in relationship with me. Logically, He should be listing out all my sins and judging me and concluding that I, too, am not worthy of His love. And no matter how much He does for me and how long He waits for me, there is never going to be a day of my life when I will be sinless and I am not going to pierce His head with the crown of my sins. Yet, He continues to await me, continues to welcome me home into His embrace each time I wander far from Him. He continues to overlook my unfaithfulness, my infidelity, my lies that I love Him but after which I go playing around with other more "attractive" things in life. If God were to love me with His mind, I would be eternally dead without a chance of redemption. It does not mean that I can treat God as a doormat, step on Him and then beg for His forgiveness. I have to be sincere in trying to do all I can for my relationship with Him too. Similarly, Elle's continued love for Jerald does not mean she subjects herself to being his doormat because Jesus also taught us to love our neighbours as ourselves. We are to love ourselves too. If being with Jerald is not life-giving to her, then she needs to choose to live a separate life from him. This does not mean she has to stop loving him. But this love has to take on a different face. No longer a love that demands to be together but a love that sincerely wishes good for him, a love that is willing to let go, a love that is willing to keep him in continued prayers. A love that accepts that there is nothing more it can do for the other and that prayer is the best and the last possible expression of itself. 

Looking at Elle, perhaps my only remaining sentiment is that of surrendering. I cannot understand her love for Jerald and perhaps, love is not something we can understand. Perhaps, love is not something that needs our understanding. Looking at another suffering for love, I need to put aside my logical and practical ways. No doubt, Elle will receive the healing she needs because with such an open heart, God can pour into it His healing graces far more easily than if it were a heart closed and hardened with anger and hatred. Elle will become a more compassionate person because she will understand the pain of others in similar experiences. But in the meantime, as she goes through the grieving process of this loss (the logical mind will call it a good loss), it is not for anyone to judge her either for "stupidly" choosing to love because in this loving, she is truly becoming more and more into the image and likeness of Christ.