Archive for the ‘Compassion’ Category

So I learn this from a movie and often remember when looking at stars in the night.

“Star light, star bright

First star I see tonight

I wish I may

I wish I might

have the wish

I wish tonight”

I have so many wishes but for tonight I pray that life will be kind, that goodness may come to all the people I care about, that children will not go hungry at night, that fearful people will find courage, that voiceless people will be able to speak, that those in poverty will understand that worth is never tight in to currency, that restless souls will find peace and quietness, that mothers will always have strength to care for children, that countries will seek peace instead of domination, that world resouces will find even distribution, that children will know that they are loved, that those who are broken will know that they are not alone, that every tear drop will be heard, that people will learn that life is much bigger than who they are, that there will be more smile and laughter in the world, that mothers will be blessed with more sticky kisses from their children.

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I do not recall the last time I felt hungry and if I did it was not because I did not have access to food. It was because my work kept me busy or I was busy doing other things. I could not imagine what it is like to feel the hunger and not knowing when the next meal may arrive or to live with hunger over extended period of time. I used to make it a requirement for my class for students to fast a meal and give that amout of money to a needy person. And while the students were all so willing to give, they would complain of how hard it was to go without a meal, to be hungry. My complaint has only been overeating. And we are spending our time trying to loose weight. Yet there is another reality out there. Check out this link. Hunger


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I usually like to ask students if they believe they have completely fulfill their moms’ expectations. The usual response is between 30 to 40 percent of the class. The humanity of mom is so basic to the core of who we are. My mom is no exception. I know she has done her best. I know that while she is proud of us, I’m not certain if there are disappointments as well. Actually I know she has disappointments at some level and wishes for us, from the goodness of her. So last Friday I took her to a new Chinese buffet and I listened to her concerns mostly about her life and her feelings. And one of the concerns is finance. I asked her, “It is not because you do not have enough as much as there is not enough for you to give to others right?”  My mom and I are so different in our theological and religious and cultural perspectives. And while sometime it is hard to sit and talk to her about these things, I found myself deeply moved by how much she cares for others and how willing she is to give up her possessions for others. She saves most of her monthly income for others.  And more than half her retirement is given to charity.  There is that moment in our lives where sacrifices stir the depth of our humanity.

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There are times in life where nothing seems to be going the way you want it to go. Life takes its own path. And the journey is beyond your control.  The path we wish to take seems like the one we consider the most beneficial and appropriate.  But it seems to me that in every path we wish to take lies the imprint of our metaphysics that both consciously and unconsciously governs our lives. It is well integrated in our functional reality.  And in the process of divine redemption, God breaks into this reality modifying, altering, challenging, and deconstructing. Often, it is such a painful process.  I like to think that God does not leave us there to be all alone either.  Although it may feel that way.  In a strange way, through strange encounters, via some random and recurring events the unfolding meaning of grace enters my life like never before. Like a voice from a far saying, things happen for a reason. And the recurring moments of grace slowly transform this metaphysics, this functional reality and the stars shine brighter.  Miracles sometimes happen through people.  And I encountered this Divine moment.

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Gospel According to Skid Row: Benefit Concert

Chen Fong Auditorium, Fourth Floor, Centennial Complex, Loma Linda University

April 16, 2011  from 3:00 – 5:00 pm


This benefit concert will be performed by members of Skid Row, Los Angeles. We invite you to come and be a witness to lives touched by the gospel and expressed through gospel music. Enjoy narrations of existential struggles, of hope in the midst of lost and grace at the center of life’s predicament. The funds raised during this concert will be used to support the ministry of LA Central City Community Church in providing care and services to the homeless residing in Skid Row.

Some Facts

“According to this recent study, the number of homeless on any given night in Los Angeles County has reached 90,000, up 8.4 percent from 83,000 in 2003. Ito noted that “the County of Los Angeles is now the homeless capital of the United States,” surpassing by far New York City’s 40,000, Chicago’s 9,600 and San Francisco’s 9,600 homeless populations. “To put it in perspective,” noted Ito, “the homeless population of Los Angeles County is larger than the entire population of the city of Santa Monica [a beach community that abuts Los Angeles]. It is truly an appalling situation.”

The bulk of the LA county homeless—82,291 out of the 90,000—are found in the City of Los Angeles—South Central (which includes Watts, Downtown, Pico Union, Boyle Heights, Hollywood—and in the City of Compton and in some of the smaller cities within the county. The industrial city of Long Beach, to the south (California’s sixth largest), Pasadena and Glendale to the north conduct their own count and provide their own services. They have 6,000, 1,200, and 400 homeless, respectively.

Out of the city’s 82,291 homeless, 34,518 (42 percent) are considered chronically homeless; that is, they have been “on the streets for more a year or more, or have had four episodes of homelessness in the last three years” and “have one or more disabilities, including mental illness, substance abuse and health conditions.” Approximately 55 percent of this population suffers from three or more disabilities.

–Ramón Valle, 17 October 2005, wsws.org

According to official U.S. government statistics issued in November of 2007, more than 1 in 10 people in the United States go hungry. More than 35 million people went hungry in 2006 according to the same report; almost 13 million of them were children and many of the rest were impoverished senior citizens.


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A very special person once introduced me to Sarah McLachlan’s Angel.  Some of the words I find very moving and so real to my personal life.

“So tired of the straight line.”  In so many different ways I was born into the world where people like to draw lines.  And every one thinks that there lines are straight.  Once they are convinced that their lines are straight, some how it has the power to manuver you in accord with its direction.  Be it the line by the church, or by the community, or by mass media, or by academia, and so on and so forth.  It gets very tired after a while.  Tired because it is so hard to get there and when we imagned that we are there, it is so hard to maintain ourselves at this place.  It is a fragile place to be.

“So tired of the straight line
And everywhere you turn
There’s vultures and thieves at your back
And the storm keeps on twisting
You keep on building the lie
That you make up for all that you lack.”

And so how long can one lie to oneself and soon our soul screams for the self to find that place of authenticity and we are forced to have to negotiate this straight line and still find our soul.  It is not an easy path.

“Spend all your time waiting
For that second chance
For a break that would make it okay
There’s always one reason
To feel not good enough
And it’s hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
Oh beautiful release
Memory seeps from my veins
Let me be empty
And weightless and maybe
I’ll find some peace tonight”

I can certainly understand the phrase “There’s always one reason to feel not good enough and it’s hard at the end of the day.”  And when that beautiful distraction takes place, it is beyond words can describe.  Some time in some strange way in some strange land God brings events or people into our lives that makes it ok for us to detour from the straight line, thatgives us a break and makes it ok.  I like to think, in Jung’s synchronicity paradigm, that this is one of the miracles of life that God brinngs to us.  The gift of the dotted circular line, the presence of an angel in our lives.

“In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You’re in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort there”

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It is strange how we often talk about grace in our spiritual life and growth.  We get into theological debate over its meaning.  We even fought about it trying to articulate what we think is its best definition and in all these attempts we miss the entire point because grace is not a construct that we can think our way through.  When it happens we know.  It does something to us. It transforms us.  In this moment we do not even have to try to defend God or our theological position.  In this moment we know the Sacred because it touches us.  In retrospect I notice how I have been obsessed with grace and in the pursuit of what it can offer.  But once we are touched there’s no debate over its meaning.  Once we are touched by grace, we know.  I know.

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