Tuesday, December 29, 2015

"The Journey"

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

// Mary Oliver

For this weather, wellybeans



Say to the sea,
Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
And here shall your proud waves be stayed.

No more. No farther.
(Not swallowed in the sea.)

Who shut in the sea when it burst out...
and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors?


Daimotsu kaijō no tsuki (LOC)

Say to the sea,
Enough. You have swirled away enough.

Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?


Monday, December 28, 2015

Arise

there is no paralysis that You can't forgive away.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Heavy Bear Who Goes with Me

"the withness of the body"

The heavy bear who goes with me
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there, 
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city. 
Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,
A sweetness intimate as the water's clasp,
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.
––The strutting show-off is terrified,
Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants,
Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all. 
The inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit's motive,
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,
Amid the hundred million of his kind,
The scrimmage of appetite everywhere.

// Delmore Schwartz, 1938
 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Meaning

Meaning-making is a crucial part of recovery, of rebuilding. After relaying a long run-on sentence, I want to wrap it up with some kind of punctuation. A period. Interrobang. Something.

RBC said that when I tell my stories, I'm not giving the raw data of the events of my life. Doing so would be neither interesting nor possible.

But that is the task before me these days. I'm to construct a play-by-play of 2003–2011, along with my distillation and interpretation of the timeline. Strange opportunity.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Replacing

I Am your Father
I Am your Mother
I Am your Parent
I Am Perfect
I was there with you.
I have never forsaken you
Neither do I condemn you,
Child of Mine.

When you came to me, I did not shame or blame you
I held you, wept with you, wept for you.
I sat with you.
I contained you.
I was glad you came, though my heart was torn in two for you
And I said, keep coming. you're safe, you're home. you're with Me.


(at Lake Champion with Renee Worcester)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Black Lives Matter

Well your Jesus was a 33-year-old unarmed man of color, wrongfully charged and publicly executed by an unjust militarized state.

He is your fellow man of sorrows, He is with you.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guiltie of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

A guest, I answer'd, worthy to be here.
Love said, You shall be he.
I, the unkinde, ungrateful? Ah, my deare,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand and smiling did reply:
Who made the eyes but I?

Truth, Lord; but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love; who bore the blame?
My deare, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat.
So I did sit and eat.

// "Love," George Herbert

Friday, August 14, 2015

Far Country, 2

For all its rooted loveliness, the world has no continuing city here; it is an outlandish place, a foreign home, a session in via to a better version of itself––and it is our glory to see it so and to thirst until Jerusalem comes home at last. We were given appetites, not to consume the world and forget it, but to taste its goodness and hunger to make it great.

// Capon

Monday, August 10, 2015

So Be It

I have been scribbling elsewhere these days.  On 5 hour calls, 26.2-mile texts, Untitled, Gold, Persians, Elves.

Subsisting on Ketchup, Sriracha, Cheese, Syrup, Spaghetti. Because bread alone is not enough.

How many people do you meet in a lifetime, who compel your whole self, soul and mind and strength? I think I can count on my hands the ones so far. Whose affections do not dismember you, sever your mind from spirit from body.

How many interactions in a year demand an in-kind response?

We're gonna hang out for a couple elf years.

A king who extends, to a queen who waits.

Dancing in minefields, in gardens.

Crystal keys in the roiled waters.

Lack and Abundance.

When Grace dances.

Pressure, Extraction.

Sneaks and Sirens.

Alright, I'll play.

It's goin' down.

Here we are.
Hineni.
Pssst.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Granny Anni

She doesn't fade from view in my mind's eye, not in the same way as when dailiness suddenly becomes nothingness. At least, she hasn't yet. There was nothing thoughtless about our communion; the periodicity, the planfulness, annualness. A time lapse. The month per year, the last eight years, one at a time. Filed away for the eleven months of lack.




It was always this way with their comings and goings, my goings and comings, our waiting and wanting. It was always worth it, even indulgent.



What is it like to be 1-year new, Gram?  Asthma-free and baby skin and all.


Your hand-me-downs made me smile today:
  • Your custom tailored dresses that fit like magic. Like I came from you or something. I donned the most outrageous one, the blue and white and crazy all over one, for my new driver's license photo. You never did get to ride in my car.
  • Your sassypants, which were a little too small for your sass, you little bonsai Grandma you
  • Your love of hats and accessorizing
  • You played volleyball and dodgeball
  • Your bible's margins, their long memory
  • Your worldtrotting and pearl purchasing
  • Your Mary Poppins bags, ever-ready
  • Your crazy diets, one new thing at a time.
    Oatmeal, ginger lemonade, vinegar, green tea, red wine.
  • Your midnight carboloading, always salty and crunchy.
  • Your penmanship
  • Your extraversion
  • Your haggling and barguing skills
  • Your love of food and feasting
  • Your chicken coop stories, drunk chicks
  • Your use of organ meats and offal. Mottainai.
  • Your plinkering piano
  • Your chaotic kitchen, always a ferment going or stock stewing
  • Your nightly massage ritual –– now to find someone as doting as Gramps . . .
  • Your knife, the way it meets a whole fish


Here are some replays I'm looking forward to:
  • Our epic red wine & Jenga night
  • How you would attack my chin with gobbles and kisses
  • Squeezing in the back seat with you
  • That time you sassed me for underestimating the walk from the MRT to the Floral Expo
  • Walking   s l o w l y   with you
  • Laying my head in your lap to pray
  • Your winggirl thing
  • Figure drawing
  • Your giggles
  • Talking my ear off on the phone
  • Your birthday cards
  • Singing with you
  • "特特!"
  • ちびや
  • "白目!!"
  • 啊帽 - 帽子的帽



Saturday, July 25, 2015

26: The Surest Way to Cross this Earth

It was not God's forgetfulness of us, but his true, raw way of digging out of the depths of us free love and naked faith.

It was not chaos, clutching at men and women's throats to make them cry out and curse the day they were born, but the motherly lap that would give them birth, bear them to the Kingdom.

From that moment I had no more doubts: Poverty was the dwelling place of the divine, the highest school of true Love, the mighty pull of mercy, the encounter with God made easy, the surest way to cross this earth.

I espoused my Lady Poverty in desire, and from that moment all fear died within me. Or rather, true freedom began.

// from I, Francis by Carlo Carretto.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Far Country

I want you to know from what country I emigrated, and in which country my citizenship permanently and eternally resides. I’m not a native speaker of this country. No real convert is. I will always speak in broken godliness, as new paradigms reread old feelings.

// Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

Friday, June 26, 2015

Applying & Surrendering

In these weeks of relapse and rememory, I finally understood that the feeling and measure of readiness that I had been waiting these years for, were in vain. So devastating were they, the regressions, to a flimsy hard-won confidence in "progress." So telling was the collapse, of the false foundation.

Bones that have healed incorrectly over time must be re-broken.

So.
Much.
Time.

It was not right, they did not work, but it felt . . . tolerable.
Unlike the hard work of restoration, where she sought only respite.
Respite without return was no rest at all.

They could not have run with horses.
Those legs could not have walked on water.
They could not have followed to the ends of the earth.
They were crippled by their contest with God.

He still wanted to walk with her, take her hand.
Win what she'd lost.

They will rejoice in the re-setting.
They will heal in their weight-bearing.
They will work as they were made to.



The steadfast love of the Lord, is so unrelenting, so precise, even in Lam 3. So I am writing again, finally and longing just to bring, something that's of worth, that will bless your heart.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Watched Pixar's "Inside Out" Today

Lava'ed it. Cried, of course. Docter has created something special and valuable. A gamechanger –– in that it can change the conversation by providing a common vocabulary to lift an explanatory fog. He's telling the stories that will capture imagination across generations. Story arcs that depict full humanity. In Up, the protagonist was a dwelling place (house). In Inside Out, Riley('s mind) is a setting. This guy (a member of First Presbyterian Church) gets the elements of narrative.

Filing away:
  • The facts and opinions boxes commingling
  • Gravity moment
  • Abstraction into shapes and colors and swirls
  • Pearls of core memories
  • Threshold moments – formative transitions
  • Joy taking a backseat
  • Sadness signaling for help/comfort
  • Each character had a different driving emotion
  • Emotions coloring memories & retouching them
  • (In/voluntary) memories affecting emotions
  • The troublemakers in the subconscious
CW EL PL JD DB AB

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Outgrowing pains

The [boys'] trauma of leaving the orphanage was unexpected to me because I knew how much better these boys' life would soon be. I thought they knew too. But they had no idea. They couldn't conceive of anything other than the status quo. My whispering to my boys, "You won't miss that orphanage" is only a shadow of something I should have known already. Our Father tells us that we too are unable to grasp what's waiting for us––and how glorious it really is. It's hard for us to long for an inheritance to come, a harmonious Christ-ruled universe, when we've never seen anything like it. 
We just can't imagine "the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Rom. 8:18). That's why it's so important to have "the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints" (Eph. 1:18).
// Russell Moore


If I only knew what You knew.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Monday, May 11, 2015

May Flowers & Touchstones

This spring has been so peculiarly and particularly beautiful to me.

Every yellow flash of forsythia. Fivesythia. Sixsythia. Sevensythia. Fine, Eightsythia.

Giant Magnolia petals.

Every friend who is moving on. The babies on their way. Every change, attended with joy and not fear.

Not anymore. Never alone, and never afraid.

Preparing to say goodbye to my brownstone home of six (!) years. And the garden. Candles every night.

Grilling five out of seven days in a week.

The spontaneous garden parties. The children who have scribbled on its tiles with chalk.

Sending friends away for four months of well-deserved rest. Their absence blessing, providing for, and housing my big sister and me.

Mountainclimbing with her. Sifting through this season. With flaming hots a means of grace.

The bleeding hearts, tulips, hyacinths, hydrangeas that have returned.

Sinking into winter grief that did not in the end overcome them.

Enjoying pursuit.

Thank you for being so clear about what you wanted and expected. It makes me certain, that I don't have that to give, to you, now. How free and fair it felt to say that.

And to permit, nothing that you wouldn't want me to do with my brother. Nothing that you wouldn't do with a child in your care. How that was honest and generous.

Change.

I look at the photographs I have taken over the last few years.

And I see how life has become more colorful, beautiful, precious and memorable to me.

The sparkle. The gala that came and went. How God sent Bailey to help me.

Creating a machine that did not exist before. Being satisfied at my production.

How Nikelle, Peggy, and Jonny, were living with me altogether during Mother's Day weekend. Cuddle puddles. Family.

These DC two who have captivated my interest. Gifted me with a category for someone I could begin to consider forsaking all others for.

Chasing a lost child all the way around the world. Cinque Terre, Venice, Cebu, Manila, Guam.

Chasing chickens.

Sharing stories.

The calendar pages turn and turn. They were not wasted or given over. Even the pages I lost, Dad, you counted.

I am living in a kaleidoscope.

The beauty is dizzying.

It has not always been so. It will not always be so. And that's okay.

Monday, March 23, 2015

MT

I shared my testimony at morning service today as part of the MT training year.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Christine Kang-Hui



Christine and I crossed paths for only a (too) short, but oh-so-intense time. The time was like Christine herself: Very short, but oh, so intense.

In the year that I knew her, she was like the fortified hull of a powerful ship, cutting and plowing through the thick and defensive top-ice of my heart, to carve out safe passage, open the way to radical healing. Oh man, did she probe. Quite surgically, I recall. She had earlier in her life endured several of the similar pains and struggles I then faced; she knew the terrain of those ravines and credibly testified to the Lord's sufficiency, even there.

Did I believe her? She dared me to. It is hard to dismiss the words and the notice of a dying woman.

Christine was one of the first women to welcome me to Emmanuel. She saw right through my politeness and refused my evasive answers to "Are you okay?" and "How are you?" There were not many corners to hide in at our tiny evening service back then, and certainly not from her watchful eye. She saw through me, and also saw me––her attentive (and sometimes aggressive) kindness was so instrumental in lifting the crushing weight of my invisibility cloak. When I felt I had no fight left, she said she saw feist, story, and song in me and that she was determined to see it surface. She also told me that my ex-boyfriend sucked and that God was holding out for me, someday, family beyond my wildest of dreams. She said she hoped to be around to tell me, "I told you so."

I am thankful to Ken for creating and allowing the space for Christine to minister to me. He would take the couch when Christine invited me over to spend the night. Christine would always say to him, "Can we feed her?" this, "Let's feed her" that (and he did). When we went to the Fall 2011 Princeton Conference on Reformed Theology, he encouraged us to room together. She (absurdly) apologized for the gurgle of her machines and feeding tubes--as she often did for even slightly inconveniencing anybody around her, by her dying. Those were precious days of learning about Gods sovereignty in and over suffering. In the next few months, those around her watched her live out everything she learned of this, and watched her fight for her true and living hope. She was appropriately mournful, and astonishingly fearless, in the face of death. She planned her own funeral and helped everyone else grieve (what!!).

In dying well, as she did learn by grace to do three years ago, she again pointed us along the Way of life before us. I am so grateful to have had this strong friend who forged ahead and who promised to cheer us on from the finish line.




Thursday, February 19, 2015

Yesterday, we feasted.


Google Voice


As the Lunar New Year coincides with Gramma's birthday this year, the celebration would have been a much-anticipated feast.

Just a foretaste of our Banquet to come, at which we'll feast with laughter, though all hunger has been banished––sated forever.

Yesterday, we feasted.
Tomorrow, we'll feast again.

Happy birthday, Gram. Love and miss you so very much. It's any Asian Grandma's job to preside over the kitchen for the big events––you're gone now, but I'm learning to run with your torch, your love of lavish feasting, for any/all Family, with delicious and serious fooding. Yesterday in your honor, I threw a dinner party for 7 kids and 14 adults. We made 220 of 4 types of dumplings, 2 types of Asian greens, 2 types of 湯圓, 壽桃... We had peanut candy, tangerines, and red envelopes. I'm so glad you shared all those things with me.

Our 春聯 were 仁愛,喜樂,和平,忍耐,恩慈,良善,信實,溫柔,節制 because these are the fruits of Springtime, the gifts of Easter's renewal, the marks of the true flourishing we desire.

So much of me is made of what I learned from you, you'll be with me like a handprint on my heart.



Gram passed away Aug 2014 but is fondly remembered with gratitude and joy.

I wonder what banquet lies before her now.

Happy Birthday, 阿嬤!

Happy New Year.


Friday, February 6, 2015

disarmed, dispossessed, and breathtakingly free

We are no longer prisoners of our own warfare.
I want to say with Athenagoras of Constantinople:

I have waged this war against myself for many years.
It was terrible.

But now I am disarmed.
I am no longer frightened of anything
because love banishes fear.
I am disarmed of the need to be right
and to justify myself by disqualifying others
I am no longer on the defensive,
holding onto my riches

I just want to welcome and to share.
I dont hold on to my ideas and projects . . .
I no longer seek to compare.
What is good, true and real is always for me the best.
When we are disarmed and dispossessed of self,
if we open our hearts to the God-Man
who makes all things new,
then He takes away past hurts
and reveals a new world
where everything is possible.
Comfort,
comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her that her warfare is ended
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD's hand
double for her sins.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Love Notices Wet Hair: On the Ministry of Noticing

What is sharp-eyed love?

When I was studying Attic Greek, I was transfixed upon the verb λανθάνω – I am hidden, escape notice. A word, a verb, that named my busy pain.

Ultimately it's a metaphysically impossible activity (Q&A11 of the First Catechism . . . He always sees me). Yet a falsely imagined but felt invisibility has so much been a part of my days and years.


* * *


Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.
// Simone Weil


* * *

Sister Girl,

This is an article I've returned to again and again over the years. It was written by a full-time college ministry worker.

Its contents are why I got weepy during our brunch with Ava, as she shared about the simultaneous love & loss that can overwhelm her when she thinks of her children while recalling her own mother. The same paradoxical lack & abundance burn me when I get to be part of a church that cares and provides for children, part of ministries for students, and wonder why I wasn't worth protecting and advocating for. How did I escape their notice?

In the end, Ava said, it is God who loves and raises and saves us, through poverty & plenty alike. In the end, it's so that I get to know and enjoy Him.

You strike a tender nerve there when you behave like you're invisible.

The necessity of the ministry of noticing, of seeing. And the pain of being invisible and unknown. After all, isn't this such a part of what Jesus did in so many of his gentle encounters with broken women? He spotted and saw them through and through and did not look away, turned all eyes on her, away from the person of power, onto the marginalized. I think, He knew what they needed. 

Q11: Can you see God?
A11: No, I cannot see God, but he always sees me.

Even when I fail to see/recognize Him, fail to see myself rightly. Even when nobody else noticed I was in need. He saw, knew. So we lack nothing. We are no longer orphans (nor were we ever). Thank you for reminding me. Have a great week!

EYL


* * *

Who am i that You are mindful of me?




---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Esther
Date: Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 9:18 PM
Subject: 
To: boo friend

boo love,

I too was a lurker in churches once. I always attended, on the fringes. And would invariably end up feeling overlooked or unsafe. And I would leave in search of a city of refuge. I went to several churches over the years waiting for welcome from its people. Ended up feeling safe only if anonymous.

Liberation came with feeling seen/known by God. This quality was what I came to experience as Papa God's love. 1 Cor 13 stunned me, I couldn't believe the words staring at me from the Bible's pages... "For now we see dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." What? I was suddenly always Seen, and always Safe...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Learning to be a child, 6.

who    in the world
can make impertinent requests, persistently, with shameless audacity?
for whom is it safe to do so?


a small child. with a loving father.


how can we know that in prayer our desires will be fulfilled?

NOT because it is an automated technique––mastery over which guarantees results. no, a relational story is given.

a story about fish and eggs, and about poisonous desert stingers.



this is a story that tells us who we are. it tells us that

we can pour the molten chaos of our desires out, onto Abba's lap, and there be gathered, fathered, formed, contained.

what You will give me, will be what I truly desire
not what I think is food, but what will truly nourish


perhaps you lost faith.

not in God, per se.

but definitely in prayer.

maybe there was a time when you were asking, and asking.
you were inappropriately bold, and you were unabashedly believing.
and it crushed you because that thing you were asking for was something actually and obviously good.

why?

why?



i don't know.

i really don't.

but what i do know, is:

God is up to something.

and it is Love.


how can you know it is love?

hurry please, run after me:
at those foothills––lies Gethsemane
scale the garden wall, come see

the eternal Son there boldly asks
Father, let this suffering pass
Father, keep from me your wrath

the Father's will, we know unfurled
for to spare the Christ our Lord
would have been the death of the world

Father I will drink as You have tasked
to spare My sister from that flask
.

to know this Child, is to know enough:
see how this looks from my seat above
I'm up to something, and it's Love.



how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!


thankful for yls15 and a year of abe's friendship

Learning to be a Child, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Monday, January 19, 2015

My friends are not my own

10. Resolved, to love fiercely but loosely: My friends are not my own. If ever I invest in friendship, to do so freely and charitably, not to buy or possess. If ever I embrace, to do so as to make space for, rather than engulf the other. I can love others, and forget myself, I can risk loss, because I am recollected by Love himself.

perfect pitch pal

Had a tearful friendship tune-up today. Going first was the hardest thing I've done recently. When rejection and exclusion, too much politeness, passive aggression, and not seeing the other... when these have been piling up underfoot. It is hard and scary to come down and deal with the lumber in my own eye first. How did something so huge even get in there in the first place...

Thank You for making me brave. Thank You for never leaving, never giving up, never avoiding--I know I can't lose You.

Yesterday Scott talked about how cause/effect, action/consequence (or reward) are often not immediate, and we forget how good and worthwhile it is to obey. Thankful that at least today, great joy and reconciliation followed almost right away. Abba is making it sweet and training my appetite & trust; quicken me after Your lovingkindness, and help me to obey.