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Being Single…Again

Hmmmm…..A thought came to mind as I ponder life. It was about Noah and all the animals coming in pairs. No pair, no entry. Washed in the rising waves. What might possibly the best course to take since the end is inevitable. And Noah had clear instruction. I’m thinking of wordings from a song….all by myself don’t wanna be. What if it is inevitable? It is not too bad isn’t it. It can’t be that bad. Life is not judged by the length of time any way or the possibility of pairing. In life there are things we cannot have. Perhaps many. Meaning does not come from having any way. Meaning is a choice we make. Love can only be learned and not taught. Love is not something you can strive to obtain. Love comes and goes of its own course. Non ever possess love. The only love that remains constant is the choice we make and the act we participate in. And that’s about all that’s in our control. And we do not all do too well at that either. In our human frailty and limitation. All we can is to just strive and be intentional in the choice we make and the things we do. And when God is kind…we may get a glimpse of love that crosses our path with a smile on our face. 🙂

Archetypes in a Dream

Last night I dreamt I was with a friend who was searching for something. We went to an apartment very late in the evening and he kept intruding into rooms searching for something. I kept trying to restrain him but to no avail. Finally after not being able to discover whatever he was looking for, we left on a type of mechanical transportation. We came to a junction and he noticed a very old home made from old zinc. He decided to search in this home but before we could enter, a very elderly lady who looked ancient came. We exchanged a few words. She went back inside her house and came out with a frozen chicken as a gift for us. The chicken looks like it has been in storage for a few decades. She said she just killed the chicken yesterday and offered to us for food. As we left, a team of movie producer approached my friend and asked him to be the lead actor. I was asked to repeat one line in the movie. My role was to kneel on the ground where the line was drawn and I was allowed to cross the line by an inch. And the only line I was to repeat was “I keep doing and repeating.” I was having a very hard time remembering this line.

I pondered the meaning of this dream and wonder if it has been this quest to pursue something meaningful in my life as represented by the unyielding search and the search has been framed from something very archaic. The pattern that is frozen in time. Things that I keep doing and repeating and not even remember. Perhaps it suggests that I should really explore something new instead of repeating this old pattern over and over again. Perhaps not. If you have thoughts, I would love to hear.

Another Snake Dream

This was just one among many short dreams I had last night. I was driving along a very dark and narrow dirt road. There were no street lights in sight at all except an open field. I was not sure where I was heading as well because the road ahead seems very dark. Then out of no were a cobra was right in the middle of the road. Its body was raised and with opened hood staring right at me. It was quite a terrifying sight and out of terror I ran over the snake. Even as I drove over the snake, I could feel its body against the under the carriage of the car moving very powerfully. The fear was that this powerful cobra could break in through the car from underneath. And I woke up and thought to myself that this was unmistakenly archetypal. Over the past couple of months the symbol of the snake has taken on a new meaning for me. I’m reminded of the golden snake the Moses raised as a symbol of healing. Learning to face your greatest fear instead of trying to run over or escape may be the most healing aspect we can achieve. The snake may perhaps be the psyche calling us to pause and take a look at that which we have been avoiding or running away from. The repeated dreams are repeated calling of the psyche for our personal growth.

A Bridge to No Where

Last night while contemplating possible changes in my life a dream came to me that I’m not sure of its meaning. If any of you who read this have thoughts to share, please do.  I was with a woman (we were supposed to be in some form of a relationship). She shifted between being Asian and Latina. We were on my white vintage Vespa. Some how the Vespa was not running as it should and I sensed that she was not impressed with my Vespa. I thought to myself “It is not the best idea when dating someone to be riding an old Vespa.” I pulled to the side and noticed that someone switched the exhaust pipe and so I fixed it. Once fixed, it runs better than before. We went through a small community and then exited. Then we were on foot talking about her future career. She mentioned that she was contemplating pursuing an MFT (because she did not like the other option which was nursing). At this point we were on a white bridge which was pretty steep. The path on this bridge was a little convoluted and we had to cross a high barrier. Once crossed we discovered that the bridge does not lead to the other side. It ends abruptly. We were kind of puzzled. Then we saw other people on the bridge and the whole bridge became wobbly and sinking. But no one was scared. As the bridge started slowly sinking there was a man on the bridge residing some Biblical text. The person I was with started walking ahead of me cheerfully. I saw a big turtle swimming gently back and forth. There was a sense in which we can all get to the other side and it will be somewhat magical even when we do not know how it can happen. And suddenly I was caught in a kind of gentle and yet overwhelming wave that puts me under. I knew I would emerge in a better place and there was a sense of serenity although it was taking a long time and I was struggling to breathe. Then I woke up.

I do not know how to put all the details of the dream into something meaningful but it appears to be that I was on a journey. And the journey involves a relationship and a career path. And while the journey seems impossible to reach because it was a bridge to no where, there is a path, a non-linear but  more mystical path that can lead to this final destination. It is not over the water but through the water, the path of least-resistance, the place of softness, the place of the heart, soul and the unconscious, and the willingness to flow.

Coloniality

I have been reading a book that is life changing. Mignolo’s “The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options.” A book that shapes how I come to see the socio-economic world that we are living in and it is eye-opening. There is much to be said but I just want to start with some new terms that I have come to appreciate. I learn the difference between post-colonial and de-colonial. While they both aim at deconstruction dominant discourse but they emerge from different genealogies. Post-colonial has its root in post-structuralist, post-modern philosophical historical context while de-colonial is a movement that stems from the awareness of the force of modernity through Western civilization and its effect on Third World/developing countries. The aware is traced back to the 1955 Bandung Conference in Indonesia. There is yet one more important distinction between decolonization and decoloniality. Decolonization focuses more on geo-politics of Western colonization in various regions and the desire for self-governance. Decoloniality, on the otherhand, address the epistemic focus of Western modernity and the power of discourse through various venues such as language, arts, literature, economy, politics etc. In a way decoloniality suggests that “he who controls knowledge, controls.”

Nature and Spirituality

Whenever I asked students about the location that evokes spirituality, one of the most often quoted is that of being in nature. The explanation is simple, it is being in nature that allows one to be in touch with God’s creation. This seems like a really good explanation. Perhaps there might be another. A while back I over heard the song ” A Horse with No Name” by America.” There was something very intriguing about the lyrics and so upon returning home I started playing the music. There was a line that caught my attention “In the desert you can remember your name. For there ain’t no one for the give you no pain.” This line just adds an interesting dimension to the spirituality of being in nature for me. Because out there among the mountains and the valleys and the rivers and trees there is no social stratification nor  hierarchy. You can truly remember your name because it is no longer defined by any one else but you. You come to know your name at a place where social order cease to exist.

Isaiah 53 and the Art of War

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers in silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

The historical context of Isaiah 53 was Judea caught in a critical situation. She had to decide how she was going to respond to Assyria because Assyria was expanding. Assyria was aggressive. Assyria was powerful. It would be reasonable and even responsible to think political strategies, count ammunition, stock weapons, recruit people, train soldiers, align oneself with powerful nations. But in the midst of all these threats came the message of Isaiah. If you want to win this war, turn to God. This does not make sense. It is like saying, if you want to pass your exam, don’t study, eat lots of vegetable and take a nap. It does not make sense by God is known to have done strange things.

Verses 4 and 5 of Isaiah 52 God says: “At first my people went down to Egypt to live; lately, Assyria has oppressed them. And now what do I have here?” declared the Lords. “For my people have been taken away for nothing, and those who rule them mock,” declares the Lord. “And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed. Therefore my people will know my name.”

Isaiah 52:5 God is saying, “I will help you.” Verse 13 tells us God’s plan to help His people. “See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.” So God says, don’t worry. Turn to me and I will help you by sending my servant.

It would be reasonable, even expected, for God to send a servant who is strong, a master strategist, a great warrior, a Jewish version of Sun Tzu who wrote the Art of War, smeone who demands attention and respect from the people. But God’s way does not always make sense. Isaiah 52: 14 says, “Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.”

In the midst of conflicts against this mighty army, God said, don’t worry. I will send a helper, I will send my servant, and my servant will be “so disfigured, his formed marred beyond human likeness.” Why would God send someone so disfigured to help fight the enemies? This does not make sense. And when we continue reading in Isaiah 53, it even makes less sense. Isaiah 53 offers a picture of a servant promised by God to help God’s people achieve victory.

Verse 3: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Verse 7: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers in silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

What is God saying? God seems to be saying, “Don’t worry about forming any military strategies. Don’t worry about the great army of Assyria because I will send my servant to help fight this great army. He will be disfigured. He will be despised and rejected by men. He will be sad. He will be oppressed and led like a lamb to the slaughter.”

God does not seem to make sense. God’s war strategies seem irrational. First God says, if you want to fight your enemies, turn to me. Second, if you turn to me I will send my servant and he will be disfigured, he will be weak, he will be sad, and he will be slaughtered. How can a suffering servant help? How can a dead servant help? How can we make sense of Isaiah 53?

Traditionally we have circumvented this by turning this text into an eschatological theme. The suffering Christ makes salvation possible for us. The suffering Christ gives us hope for the future. The suffering Christ offers life eternal.

Although I agree with this traditional interpretation, I believe there is something much more then the promised eschatological deliverance. I see Isaiah 53 as a political statement. It is about the kingdom of God here and now.

How do we fight our enemies? How do we conquer our enemies? How can we have victory over our enemies? It is human to think, we need more power, we need more weapons, we need more ammunition, we need advanced technology, we need more force. But Isaiah 53 speaks otherwise. Not by power, by might, by authority, by technology, or by force. As Mahatma Gandhi has eloquently pointed out, “An eye for an eye and the world turns blind.” We conquer our enemies through the suffering God. We achieve victory through the God who is weak and powerless or in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “God allows himself to be pushed onto the cross. Only the powerless God can help.”

In his struggle against discrimination in South Africa Mahatma Gandhi proclaimed, “They can hurt us, they can kill us but they can’t take away our dignity.” Based on his interpretation of the sermon on the mount came the principle of Satyagraha, “The opponent must be ‘weaned from error by patience and sympathy,’ weaned, not crushed; converted, not annihilated. On April 5, 1930 Gandhi arrived at a seashore in Dandi, Ahmedabad, and started another act of civil disobedience through non-violence. He challenged British’s claim to monopoly on salt. To Gandhi, salt belongs to India and initiated the business of making and selling salt. They were met with great resistance from the British police forces. They were beaten, savagely kicked, and dragged into ditches hour after hour, day after day. They were bleeding, their bones were broken, and some died. But they kept going, walking toward the salt factory, group after group, refusing to use violence, holding fast to the principle of ahimsa. But they responded through non-violence. Watching the incarnation of the principle of Satyagraha in the lives of these Indian Louis Fischer writes, “India is now free…The British beat the Indians with batons and rifle butts. The Indians neither cringed nor complained nor retreated. That made England powerless and India invincible.”

Not by power nor by force because the kingdom of God is the kingdom of the heart. Because kingdoms, armies, domination, technologies shall pass but the heart lives forever. Power and forces come and go. But when the heart is touched, it becomes immortal.

Isaiah 53 is a political statement. It is a statement that says to the enemies, you can beat me and I’m still here. You can push me away and I’m not going away. You can curse at me and I remain with you. You can make me bleed, you can pierce nails through my hands, you can reject me, you can be mad at me, you can push that thorns on my head, you can place that cross upon me but I’m not going away. I’m here and I love you. You can kill me and I’ll be back.