Archive for June, 2009

Sorry for not having updated as often as of late. I really do love blogging, but for the time being, there’s only a few things that I’d be willing to share about my personal life. I’ll just say its been an interesting week, and I’ll leave it at that. 😛

But in lieu of sharing the details of my personal life, I don’t mind sharing about my spirituality. These past few days has been a complex mix for me. There arises a tension of sorts between the stillness of my own heart and the disturbance of another. My world is shalom; his erratic. I find that it is in my stillness and in the light of God’s protection that I am able to keep sanity, to keep from sinking into my own cynical thoughts. And for that, I am grateful.

But this shalom is not cheap because I find myself wondering at the tension between logic and emotions. Logic tells me what is reasonable, how I should act and what would be for my best interest. But my heart, oh my heart, it speaks of a different note altogether. It tells me to do things and risk things that I might not otherwise do. I live as a divided man, a mixed bag of conflicting parts. I want to be whole and “one” with myself. And in those times, I find that in looking upward, I am able to set my mind and my heart both on God. And the two meet in perfect union and accord, without any tension, because in that love both my heart and my mind lay undivided.

So, I ask do you ever find yourself fighting yourself? What do you do in those instances? Which do you prefer to listen to or act on and why??

“As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.”

-Psalm 42:1-2

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.”

-Psalm 63:1-8

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I’ve been contemplating the idea of sacred space. Since beginning to read Eliade’s book, The Sacred and the Profane, I’ve have the opportunity to relook into some ideas that I hold about the nature of religion. And this is indeed a good thing, for at the very least, it helps me sympathize with the values and traditions that other people hold in a way that I have never been able to before. In the book, one of the things that he talks about is hierophany, the divine revealing itself to man, and because of this, there is a sense of sactity of the world. Thus, in terms of sacred space, a place is made sacred as a locale of divine revelation (as in the place where Jacob received his vision) or as an imitation of the divine (as the temple was an “image” of what’s in heaven).

In the modern world, this is just so hard to see. I’ve always thought of sacred space more in terms of human constructs. Either as of the mind/senses (beautiful building that seems to “invite” the divine just seem to be a little manipulative to me… particularly since a person can design a building to evoke certain emotions. Case in point: Frank Lloyd Wright’s work) or as set up by an institution (“this particular place is holy because it is where the church is founded”). Needless to say, my perspective was of a very different sort than Eliade’s. And yet I can really see some of his points. In terms of sacred space, I know that apart from very few people, there are places that have more significance in our lives for one reason or another. So as I said, reading this book has been a good thing. 😀

So now the concept of sacredness is a confusing one at best. We do not really identify much with the idea of sacred space and time. Marriage, which has and still is considered “sacred”, has become a social contract which anyone can back out of on a whim. In our world today, what is really sacred? Is anything sacred anymore and should anything be viewed in that light in general? If so, how does something’s sacredness affect the way you view it?

And I will say at last that I am merely glad that when I am in need, God can be found. Not in any particular locale, but within me, near me, ever present, and permeating the very space I am currently inhabiting, wherever that may be. I can enter this inner sanctum whenever I want and he will meet me there. But perhaps, just perhaps… there are some places where I can be more prone to be acutely aware of God’s presence. 🙂

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our religious nature

I am stilled. My heart experiences no violence bubbling up for inside me though there has been no substantial external shift in my life. It is stillness that I am not able to quite grasp because it leaves me wondering what to do with myself. I, however, have not been unproductive. I have been reading quite a bit lately. So the stillness certainly isn’t a result of inactivity. 😛

The books I’ve been reading have lead me into contemplation of religion, its nature, and ultimately, challenging me to see religion in terms of the human experience. My thoughts follow: God chose to reveal himself through the mode of human religion. There is something deeply interwoven with human nature that seeks for the divine, one that is inherent in societies all over the world. There is something of the supernatural that must be communicated to all men. Of course I believe that Christianity has grasped it in whole, has attained the communication with the divine that man seeks. But does that mean that other religions do not hold some expressions or elements of truth in their rituals?? While yet corrupted, does it not still hold that there remains a possibility for God to manifest himself to them in some ways?

Sometimes, I wonder how the Apostle Paul would approach missions today. In different areas of the world…. maybe even in our little piece of the world. We see him in Acts 17 debating with the philosophers of his time and area to bring about enlightenment of the Gospel. Should we not then seek to approach it in like manner, to appeal to the people in our own time using the particular beliefs and tendencies that they hold to reveal to them more deeply the nature of our God?

Anyway, these are just my musings and they are obviously still in development. 🙂

“16Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

22So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

32Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33So Paul went out from their midst. 34But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
-Acts 17:16-33

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The turmoil of my heart can only be met by the faithful love of my Father. In him is my answer, an answer that is more profound that speech conveys, for what can capture its fullness? If I were to pray, “Lord, give me peace,” he would give it in abundance. If I were to ask, “God, give me grace,” his grace would abound all the more. This fierce love which he bestows onto me brings me to the point of tears, for in these moments, words are merely inadequate.

Some battles are best fought alone. There are just some things that other people cannot be adequate aids, merely because they are not meant to be. This is not true in all circumstances, and neither does this mean that they cannot aid in some way. But the bulk of the fight may be given for you and for you alone.

Is that scary? It is a bit. Sometimes, it is terrifying. And yet in the midst of the fight, the Lord will be found strong in weakness, perfect in his power. Indeed, the lonely battle never has to be fought truly alone; God’s Spirit intercedes for us and fights with us, and we find that whatever little efforts we have made will be matched a hundred fold by God. For he is our peace…

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

-Psalm 42:5-6

Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
For You, LORD, rescued me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
I will walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.

-Psalm 116:7-9

“And so our good Lord answered
all the questions and doubts which I could raise,
saying most comfortingly:
I make all things well,
and I can make all things well,
and I shall make all things well,
and I will make all things well;
and you will see for yourself
that every kind of thing will be well.”

-Julian of Norwich

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In the midst of the rush of life, it’s so easy to disconnect. In those moments of buisiness, in the new and exciting, the tendency is to focus on what is ahead. And yet, how often we miss what is in front. The presence of God is in our midst, and yet we look past him, and see what he have wanted to see. When the exciting comes to a crashing halt, then what? What are we left with except a sense of emptiness in the space that new and exciting things have once occupied?

The vacation has offered me both the fast-paced excitement and the slow-paced meditation. It’s the way a vacation should be. I am caught between the sharp contrast between the two states that only a vacation can offer. Though there was always much good in what the exploration and the discovery, how easy it is to let excitement overtake us and push aside our God in the process. The God that envelops all suddenly becomes enveloped by our (proportionally) small circumstances. But likewise, we are apt to ignore God just as much in our ennui, in extending our minds and bodies to nothing good. Our natures are such that in whatever circumstance we may find ourselves in, our eyes turn to ourselves. Our inward thoughts and desires stay centered around ourselves instead of on the source of our lives, and this is a sad state indeed. But anything beyond takes much effort, discipline, an intentional stepping back from our world and our pleasures until we come to a place where we are acutely aware of the presence of the One from whom all things exist.

But hear him call. Persistently. Patiently. I run into the arms of my Beloved. For truly beloved he is and will always be. He never leaves nor forsakes me. I place my face to his neck and he embraces me. He tells me, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10) and “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” (Is 49:16). That I am thus loved is too great for me to bear. I cannot pay it back in turn. So I simply accept. And belong. 😀

The last few days before returning to IN have been filled with visiting friends. My trip here has been mostly uneventful. The drive was smooth, and I have the house to myself now. How fun! 😀

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France trip, day 11

Today is my last day in France, and as such, it was not entirely eventful. My other uncle had left and my aunt was at work, leaving things to my uncle and my father and me. In the morning, we went to the store to buy things to bring back home with us. We bought things like Bordeux wine, cheese (including camembert cheese), butter, mustard, pate. I can’t wait to give them to friends! 🙂

Then I spent some time packing up my things. Packing is just never much fun, and packing to leave for France and all its diversions is particularly not fun. I wish the trip was longer. Here are some things that I will miss about France:

• The family that I’ve gotten to meet
• Seeing things that make me say, “wow, that’s different”
• Historic buildings
• Being able to talk to some interesting people
• Eating French bread and drinking French wine
• The Paris transit system (RER) and its convenience

The trip back was not too tiresome and I look forward to new things now from necessity. Ah, Paris, how I’ll miss you. I hope to see you again one day. 😀

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France trip, day 10

I spent the first half of today with family. My father had bought a digital camera for Remy, and after he gave it to him, we spent some time trying to get it to work. So it happens, there was no memory card included, so my father will probably have to buy one in the States and send it over. 😆 Oh dear… But despite that, I think that Remy liked the camera. He’s never had one before, I don’t believe. I know I would be happy to have gotten one.

My aunt is a funny woman. A very good humored lady who loves to laugh and tease. She asked to look at the photos I had taken on my camera, and then laughed at the funny faces that people made, especially those of her husband. 😀 I will admit that I took a lot of pictures when people didn’t expect me to, so there are some pretty hilarious faces. haha. She’s so fun and I will miss her and the family.

Afterwards, daddy and I went to some friend’s house to hang out. A very old friend of his showed up to see him, and it was touching how they connected again. I believe they were very close once. And she was so sweet and loving to me that I couldn’t help but like her. I hope they get to see each other again…

I go home soon. Makes me sad to go back… but at the same time, I’m looking forward to it. I have things to do in the U.S. that I need to attend to. Exciting things. God is good. 🙂

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