Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Christ Enters My Giving

Listening to the brokenness and pain that people have to endure, the helplessness of a life that knows no way out, the messiness of a collection of painful situations that seems never to be resolved... 

Sitting with a person in all these...

Facing the helplessness within my own self, the loss for words most of the time, the compassion and empathy that stirs my heart so deeply... 

What can I offer? 
What do I have that I may offer?

Nothing I can give to erase the errors of the past, to dissolve the cutting pain, to gather the broken pieces. Nothing I can give that is possibly worth receiving... nothing... until Christ enters my giving. 

When He enters, He enters through my history, my many failures and learnings, pains and healings, my countless experiences of struggling, of not knowing, of fumbling, of messing up, of being lost and groping in the dark. And only with these do I truly have something worth giving - the very gift of myself, of my life - not an empty, shattered, worthless shell but a life that God has entered into to bring His presence, goodness and resurrection, breathing life into what was dead. 

All of which leads me to ask again, "What can I offer?"
What am I offering the other each time I minister? What am I truly giving if not the precious gift of God Himself?

I am giving the God who has been in my life, labouring tirelessly in all my good and bad. I am giving God in the person He has made me to be.

And because it is Him I am giving, it makes the giving worth giving. And because it is Him the other is receiving, it makes the receiving worth receiving. 

And it makes sitting with a fellow pilgrim, on this our journey to the eternal Jerusalem, in all her pain and troubles, one of the most life-giving experiences I can ever have. 

Monday, 28 April 2014

White over Black

I remember doing some paintings as a child, and there were those anxiety-filled moments when I made a wrong stroke by accident and there, in the place where I did not want, a black spot stared right back at me. And I would be frantically trying to cover the black spot with white paint, hoping to cover up the eyesore. With more experience, I came to learn that if I had put a thick enough layer of white paint, the black did eventually "disappear"; no cause for too much worry.

Well, the black did not quite disappear because I could never remove the black paint from where it should not be. All that happened was that the black had been overwhelmed by another colour - white. And indeed, the more white paint, the more the black gave way. 

Looking back on the past 8 days of Easter, it might be timely to pause and consider how we have been these days. 

People are wishing one another a happy easter, that the joy of our risen Lord will fill all our hearts. Yet, do we really feel this joy? What joy can there be since our problems never did disappear at that Easter Vigil Mass, our challenges and struggles remain as that prominent eyesore staring back at us, difficult people remain difficult, failures continue to remind us of that wrong stroke we have made on the paintings of our lives? What joy are we really wishing one another? What joy are we truly receiving?

Much as I would like life to be perfect like a painting without errors, we all know that life is never perfect. Easter, perhaps, isn't about having all our struggles, sufferings and failures removed so that life becomes a bed of roses. Easter, the celebration of new life, isn't about a new life without worries and troubles. Instead, it is a new life that includes Jesus into this painting. And because He has conquered even death, in Jesus we find the abundance of hope and certainty, the supreme White that overcomes all errors, all black spots, all unwanted strays of the brush. If we allow Jesus to grow in us, although no black spots can be removed, we will experience the joy of Easter, the joy of new life, the joy of Jesus coming to shed His light and His love upon all the darkness in our lives, the joy of Jesus's graces triumphing over all. The white increases till it has all under itself. 

But is this enough for us? 
Is Jesus' coming into our brokenness really enough for us? Are we contented or is there a space in our hearts that still asks for a perfect life? A convenient and trouble-free life? 
Is there really no life in imperfections? That life can only be found in perfections?

If we but remember those times in our life experiences when somehow, the imperfect moments were the very moments brimming with the life that comes from submitting to God's Holy Will... from allowing Him into the blackest spots so that He can overcome them with His brilliant white... from surrendering the mastership of my life into the true Master's hands. Remembering always, too, that God allows black only because He is that mighty power who overcomes all. 

Where is God, what is He saying in the blacks of your life?