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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

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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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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Over the past many years I have been able to witness lives of many people who have been through the reality and the complexity of life whether it be life’s difficulties, strained relationship, mental illness, terminal diseases, and other forms of trauma.  The one constant variable is the newly acquired perspective in life, the realization of the reality that life’s is really not in one’s control.  Many of taught me the importance of learning to manage this reality and find a space to flow. 

It has also taught me that in the end even in the midst of all that we wish to have happened in our lives, there are too numerous that remain beyond our ability to make certain that they happen.  We are left with the ability to navigate through live as best we can. But in many different ways it has returned as a gift of life, a place that invite us to remain in the present, to be here. 

I learn that we can not change how people think or feel.  We can try.  But those changes belong only to them within the scope of their decision.  We cannot plan life for our children. We can try but in the end they have their own lives and their own calling.  We can envision how we wish our family to move toward but the dynamic within the family has a way of finding its own path as well.  We do not direct although we may so wish so very deeply.  We cannot even make people we wish to help be helped the way we really wish.  It is up to them to interact with the very help we offer and it is beyond us to determine. 

So ultimately I think all we have is this capacity for compassion.  It is truly all that we have within our own ability.  We have that possibility to act compassionately.  And in this act of compassion we are not able to determine how people will act, respond, or interprete what we do.  It is the only thing we know deep in our hearts.  And our hearts may be the only witness.  It is all that we have and when we come to this realization it may just be the most liberating thing we have gained for ourselves.  It is all that we  have within our control.

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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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Listening

I remember a friend telling me how he was so engrossed watching Beyonce’s “Listen” on Youtube that he did not hear what his wife was saying.  And she became mad at him for listening to Beyonce’s “Listen” without listening to her.  Life’s is funny.  I have made a career for myself out of listening.  Not that I’m all that great a listening but I try.  Perhaps there’s that possibility too that while we are intend on listening to others, we may have ignored our own feelings, we may have not paid attention to or listen to what is going on inside of us.  We may spend most of our times processing other’s feelings and remain clueless to our very own.  

I have to admit I do not quite know what it was like to be heard except of course when I visited my therapists.  People are good to me and they care and they do wonderful things.  But listening is a little different I think.  It does make a difference when people are curious about you, when they want to know you, when they pay attention to ‘things’ about you, when they ask questions about you.  It makes you pause and think that there might be something worthwhile about you enough…enough to evoke that curiosity.

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Humility is to come into the presence of love and find in it that vastness, complexity, and the irresistible – overwhelming power to affect.  It is feeling small and finite in the infinite ocean of Love.   And yet perhaps that is what it is all about, that in the face of Love we find our humanity, in its presence we regain a sense of appreciation of our finiteness.  And within the limit of this finiteness is where one has a glimpse of love.  Perhaps the beginning of love is not to know love but to be known by love.  And when we are known by it, we know. It is not knowing because the logic is right but because our hearts recognize its texture. A couple of years ago I asked my friend how does one know when one is loved.  Her response was, you just know.  I was a little skeptical, but I think she’s right.

There’s also the other very important dimension to Love.  In the profoundest sense its power is its very own irony.  In our human capacity, love is the noblest of our ability to act and it is here too that all acts come to an end.  Love ends at the very act itself.  It does not give less and does not ask for more.  It cannot ask for more.  In all our human capacities, it is what we can and have the power to do.  We act and then we let go of what we may wish as the outcome.  We love and love ends in its very act.  It does not seek to maneuver what the future may hold or what results we could gather.  It is the wisdom of Krishna advising Arjuna in Bhagavat Gita and the dharma goes, (my own interpretation) “Sometimes you have got to do what is right and be willing to face any consequence.”

Good advise, Krishna.  It sounds lofty and ideal. But in the very nature of our humanity, we are humanly weak at times and seeking, at others.  Our hearts are fragile and our spirits yearn for that touch, that affirmation, that look that offers courage, those words that heal so in our very own finite ways we will regain some strength to go on offering love that we do not fully understand, giving compassion in ways that our humanity can offer while striving to learn that the very act of love is its end.

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I noticed numerous inquiries through my search engine on the issue of hunger.  As I was browsing through various websites I came across some very helpful information from the UN World Food Program.  Here are some facts that you may find beneficial as you seek to understand the issue of hunger in the world.  

1. Malnutrition prevents children from reaching their full development and cognitive potential.

2. Almost one billion people regularly suffer from hunger; most are women and children.

3. One child dies every six seconds from hunger-related causes.

4. More people die of hunger every year than from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. 

I gathered information from this website:  http://documents.wfp.org/stellent/groups/public/documents/liaison_offices/wfp185786.jpg

You can find more helpful information from WFP website.

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I received an invitation from Trisha Famisaran to attend a conference on Feminism and Ecology and had the privilege of listening to a presentation by Rosemary Radford Ruether.  It made a profound impact on me as I ponder the meaning of eco-feminism.  I do not know if I got it right but it does not seem to matter at this point because the concept has allowed me to draw some meaningful conclusion about life.  It makes me think that perhaps we got it all wrong.  All these things about going out and helping the poor because we have all the knowledge and wisdom and technology.  But isn’t all these technical knowledge and the colonial logic destroying us and our world?  Aren’t we not suffering now because of our advancement and the pursuit of the rational in manipulating the world that we live in?  We have caused more damage to the world and our environment than the poor.  We have created more conflicts and caused more depression among our generation.  The poor did not cause environmental damage.  They were using buffalos and planting rice in the field and live with what they have.  They were simple.  They did not have to consume products that have to be recycled.  They were contented with their buffalos until our technology tells them that there’s something better and that they could earn more money to buy more products.  I wonder if it is the poor that we have to look up to to relearn to live our lives.  And who’s to say that they are poor if it is not our very own need to create categories.  They just live a simple life.  Because we are not simple or cannot live simple, we call them poor.  My professor, Dr. William Clement once said to me, “People like to talk about helping the poor.  For me, they poor have already helped me so much.”  What a profound wisdom.  We always think of someone like Donald Trump as a successful person.  But is this really success?  What if success is defined as a person who has the ability to live simple and live within the limit of what he or she has?

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This report comes from Adventist Development and Relief Agency

—A deadly earthquake devastated central Italy on Monday, April 6, displacing tens of thousands of people, and killing more than 200 people in the worst earthquake to hit Italy in almost 30 years, according to the latest reports from Reuters. ADRA is monitoring the situation in order to prepare an appropriate response for the early recovery phase of the disaster.

“ADRA is committed to helping those who are suffering in this ongoing tragedy,” said Joerg Fehr, executive director for the ADRA Euro-Africa regional office located in Switzerland. “As relief efforts continue, let us remember to keep those affected by this disaster in our prayers.”

During the initial response to the disaster, the Italian Civil Protection Agency, the Italian police, and the Italian army are on the ground, searching desperately for more survivors in the rubble. When the early recovery phase begins, humanitarian aid agencies will be prepared to provide the aid that is so urgently needed during the recovery stage.

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck near the capital city of L’Aquila, in the Abruzzo region at 3:32 a.m., local time, on Monday morning.

Recent reports indicate that the earthquake injured at least 1,500 people, and killed more than 200, many of them in the town of L’Aquila, located approximately 70 miles (110 kilometers) east of Rome, and surrounding towns and villages.

Updates will be released as response efforts expand.

To send your contribution to ADRA’s Emergency Response Fund, please contact ADRA at 1.800.424.ADRA (2372) or give online at http://www.adra.org.

ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race, or ethnicity.

Additional information about ADRA can be found at http://www.adra.org.

Author: Nadia McGill

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My wife and I have been trying really hard to save for our retirement.  And the past few months did not really help at all.  It is interesting how we keep planning for the future and it is mostly about the future.  How can we have enough money to keep us through old age.  In a strange way, we do not quite plan for the transition of meaning into old age.  We think that what is meaningful will continue to be meaningful when we grow old.  But things change.  Often productivity is what defined who we are and gives us a sense of meaning in life.  But can it sustain us?  While we invest in mutual funds, I think this is really a great metaphor for the way we need to conceptualize meaning as well.  I was constantly being told to diversify and by good funds. When it comes to meaning as well I think it will be a mistake to invest everything in one stock.  If we assign meaning to one thing, when it changes, we will be in distress unless it only ascends.  But most things in life goes up and down like the stock market.  We may have to learn to diversify our sense of meaning.  We may have to say, I find meaning in my work, family, cats, walk in the nature, friends, food, prayer, games, movies, church, travels, books etc.  If our soul can diversify its source of meaning, we will probably be better off facing the future with all the ups and downs in various areas.  When the friends are few, there are food and cats.  When church is not as sensible, there are books and nature.  Diversification makes it possible to balance life’s meaning in its full reality of pain and gain.

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