a Sweet humble life. I chanced upon this little mongrel named Mocha in a make-shift “home”. My stay is too brief but we are already friends through tongue sticking out, tail wagging and paw shaking.
I know I should not be writing about my Beloved because it is like baring my soul to the world, the old poet said. So I find this poem by random browsing from a gift collection given by my own beloved younger relatives who know that I love poetry.
coming thus far
lead back to you:
no matter the dead
roads dreams went
the cord you sent
to my pastimes
only to reach
you, and to find
you at the end
of it all.
(Poem taken from “Soul’s Festival -collected poems 1980-1997″ by Anne Lee Tzu Pheng)
Reading this poem pulls my heartstring too. I have my own beloved, at certain time in life. Sometimes I travel far for a prolonged period of time. But when my heart is still I can find an invisible cord inside pulling to the dear ones I have left behind. This week’s photo challenge word “beloved” makes me sit down and ponder, “Whom can I call my beloved?” My first thought today is my mother.
The sad thing is that during the last part of her life I was not able to stay geographically closer to her. In those days we did not have easy digital communication through internet or mobile phone. Line phone was expensively ticking by minutes and limited in audible performance as she just could not hear what I said. Separated by oceans and other matters too. I know I have no excuse whatever the road/sea/sky blockages might have been. Why did not I fly home more often? I ask today. My honest answer is that my heart was divided and distracted by too many unimportant matters which can sum up in just one phrase, “I was busily living my own life.” On the other hand she never forgot any of her beloved. After the funeral, we found our names and the daily prayers she prayed for each of her children faithfully written down in her handwritten journal. We also found some letters she had written to us but not posted because no one did it for her and she was not mobile by then…
Bible verses to meditate upon:
Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
Proverbs 23:25 Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice.
My heart’s Variations on a Theme, my ocean. Given an option I would choose the ocean if I were a gull with wings. There are two views of the same section of the Pacific ocean being superimposed in this picture. I took them at the end of 2015 on a clear sunny day in California. I have inverted the bottom half of the second picture. The inverted waves are symbols of what are moving inside a heart that cannot be stilled. The top half of the original first picture has the bird facing the opposite direction, flying away from the shore. But during my editing she has somehow turned around towards the shore and nearer to the audience. I have seen many gulls onshore in the city. I am told that they come in to scavange for food often near the dump-site or where passers-by have left unwanted stuff behind. Has the ocean become less habitable for gulls? Or perhaps the shore is a more convenient however brief respite? Sometimes I wonder whether we have unwittingly domesticated gulls because I just read a poem about tame gull.
What a sad thought it is. Given an option I would choose the ocean if I were a gull with wings.
A conversation (excerpted*) between the fishermen:
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”
They answered Him, “No.”
And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish…Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.
I decide to use these three pictures to depict 2017 presentation of a phase in my traveling life. I would call it a year about friends. Old, kind and gentle friends. Old does not mean chronologically aged. It means something familiar and one has already accustomed to. I suppose I have been re-kindled in someway by an extended autumn-winter stay with a long separated family, being re-climatized and inspired to walk long walks and write lots of short haikus in their land. I have also visited my long abandoned birth place in another extreme land’s end and written a story about a love that could have been but had never really materialized. Then I was brought to a place high up a mountain range covered by snow and yet has this beautiful lake which has gently displayed its beauty and given many a perfect placement in friendship, for some it is a beginning, for some a progressing in the continuum, and for some a final maturing. I am thankful that we are friends, whatever stages we are at. These pictures are etched in only the momentary memory at the point of a contact. Will I ever forget when I grow chronologically old? Will anyone who really loves their friends?
Friends are to rejoice and celebrate together. Here are two stories about what friends are for. I recently had an interesting experience. During a house renovation I found that I had lost two items, an old laptop PC which I use to store old family photos and an old but hardly used vacuum cleaner’s accessories. They were not of any present day monetary value. However I was disturbed by the idea that an illegitimate loss might have happened in my territory, and I became restless and sleepless that night. After spending hours fine combing the house I sat down and prayed that the items reveal themselves and be returned if taken by persons without asking for my permission. I heard in my heart that I should bless and not feel upset. So I obeyed. After the renovation was finally completed I went to the same back store and saw the vacuum cleaner accessories nicely kept in one paper box on the shelf. When I went into a back room I saw the laptop miraculously appeared, clean and in tact complete with its docking system on a shelf. When I look back now I begin to understand how much it had meant to the shepherd and the woman in the following two stories to see their losses reversed. So, I too call my friends to rejoice with me!
The two parables below were told by Jesus about the true value of life. What it means to be lost and found, both to the owner and to the valued friend, both the lost and found one and also the one who rejoices together with the owner.
Luke 15: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ 10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
An Ascending to the throne. Sometimes we read or watch official news of a deeply venerated longstanding monarch depart from this world at old age, having reigned over his faithful subjects for many decades. The news is often of a standard pattern: solemn, reverent, tastefully laced with a tinge of sadness which comes with saying goodbye and yet realistically portraying the inevitable passing of a perhaps antiquated and soon to be forgotten historical era. The male commentator has a well-trained, constrained and unhurried voice with medium pitch, and tends to present the appearance of a stiff-upper-lip somewhat dispassionate English gentleman.
The narration, the tone and texture, the colors, the costumes, the deliberate movements, the choice of musical backing, the props, the participants: their ranks and titles, clothing and decoration, brand names of what they wear, spouses and children, vehicles, entourage, facial expressions, mannerisms and many more minute but supposedly pertinent significant and interesting details on such historical occasions.
More importantly is the brief but positive biographical narration about the monarch’s life and his achievements, which should include all the good he had done to others. Humans in general like to read good positive factual reports of what a person, monarch or beggar has done for others, which is the gist of a purposeful life; an ascending to another throne.
Verses for thoughts:Psalms Chapter 24:1-4
(A Psalm of David) The earth [is] the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
Today I sense a Transformation by the renewal of the mind.
On this morning when sleep is freshly cast aside with reluctance
because of the lingering sweetness of an undisturbed rest,
I hear a light whisper outside my window
and I rise and greet the call which is even sweeter, from love.
A light switch turns gently on by nature from beyond
with a rush of refreshing cool breeze that only a dawn can bring.
How do I define you, my dawn?
I just look at the demarcation line you make between the light and the darkness.
I always associate you with light and love.
Together you bring fresh hope for life.
For too long I have heard oppressed stories of gloom and depressed forecast of doom.
Today I decide to turn way from false prophets and soothsayers.
I am resolute to start my day with you of light and love.
My mind is transformed by your evidences that present themselves
in grandeur and majesty from on high,
yes, from great beyond.
autumn and cloud Experimentals
I took these pictures in November two years ago. It was a rather hot and dry autumn and the leaves and sky were quite stunning. I have experimented with them using a computer program. The results are unusual but I still prefer the original which I post below.
Perhaps I am a conservative where certain subjective things are concerned. I like the original “unplugged” untouched-up versions in photos, music, poems, paintings, stories, impressions, thought and feeling of love and being loved.
Photos are mostly subjective. I know someone will ask, “Really?” Well, just ask any photographer or traveler. No matter how hard I try to be objective when taking a snap at something, when I look at the photo outcome later I can still see a personal preference even for a moment. In this case it becomes rather obvious when I edit them.
Peek at an underwater space.
I took these pictures quite sometime ago when I visited Monterey Bay Aquarium. I have forgotten all about the bright red octopus which disappointed many by persisting to hide in its underwater garden/cave. There is nothing much to see except a tentacle with suckers. The aquarium describes it to be “an amazing creature—brainy and beautiful…In our exhibit, you may have to look closely to find the octopus, as these animals can change their skin color to blend in with the rocks around them, and even this species, the largest octopus in the world, can squeeze itself into tiny, out-of-the-way spaces.” So here is just a peek of the amazing creature.
In a way this octopus is like human. Don’t we all choose to allow a mere peek in many aspects of our life? I am not talking about the virtual world. Even in real life we keep to our personal space. Why is it that the more civilized we are the more exclusive and distant we strive to become? I read that the Giant Pacific octopus spends most of its life alone. While it chooses to be a hermit, it can learn to open jars, play with toys, and interact with its handlers. It can mimic other octopuses. It is a master of disguise. Near the end of her three years’ life the female will find a once in her lifetime mate and reproduces. Here is a touching description of the heroic sacrificial mother.
“The mother octopus lives in the cave for up to seven months as the curtain of eggs develops, fanning the eggs with her arms or contracting her body to shoot streams of oxygen- and nutrient-rich water over them. She doesn’t eat during this time and usually dies shortly after the young hatch.” (Monterey Bay Aquarium)
Given a last line I would add that she is probably more capable of true love than many.
A Glow that still glimmers.
I am fascinated with letter writing. I mean the kind of letters that really matters, both to the writer and the recipient. Not so long ago we all wrote letters. We wrote letters of real words, often with genuine feelings and thoughts. Crossing a rather long causeway one evening I took this picture. Although it was a bit shaky I appreciate the capture for a moment in time which passed and never returned. Letters often depict a moment in time like a picture. Looking through my former drafts for this blog I found the following lyrics written by a legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen who passed away in 2016 November. For those who do not know him and are interested in knowing what he was known for during the nearly 50 years of his musical career, “Unmatched in his creativity, insight and crippling candor, Leonard Cohen was a true visionary whose voice will be sorely missed,” said his manager.
Here is how Leonard Cohen writes (and sings) about letter writing and reading. Don’t we all feel the same as the letters writer feels? There is always a silent secret glow in our heart when we write with a passion. I know of someone who used to write one letter a day to his beloved for three and half years in addition to making rather expensive transatlantic phone calls (in those days) until she was accustomed to hearing from him like from a voice inside her and finally told him to marry her. Does the glowing ember of letters die off eventually? I have no answer. Perhaps if the two should meet when they have become really very old they will tell each other. Leonard once had a love in 1960s and when she approached death in July 2016 at 81 he wrote a touching letter to her. He too died shortly after. He was 82.
The Letters by Leonard Cohen
He: You never liked to get
The letters that I sent.
But now you’ve got the gist
Of what my letters meant.
You’re reading them again,
The ones you didn’t burn.
You press them to your lips,
My pages of concern.
I said there’d been a flood.
I said there’s nothing left.
I hoped that you would come.
I gave you my address.
She: Your story was so long,
The plot was so intense,
It took you years to cross
The lines of self-defense.
The wounded forms appear:
The loss, the full extent;
And simple kindness here,
The solitude of strength.
He and she: You walk into my room.
You stand there at my desk,
Begin your letter to
The one who’s coming next.
From wikipedia about ember:
An ember is a glowing, hot coal made of greatly heated wood, coal, or other carbon-based material that remain after, or sometimes precede, a fire. Embers…radiate a substantial amount of heat long after the fire has been extinguished…
Become Rounded at a jazz restaurant. Some years ago I casually became accustomed to jazz recordings performed by several female artists whose albums happened to be available in a tiny sleepy town. It started one day when someone real close got hold of one lone jazz album, Cool Edinburgh jazz vocalist Niki King’s Azure. After listening to her lithe and soulful voice, I decided to ransack a rather rare music store hidden in a cool back lane that sold only high fidelity expensive recordings to audiophiles. I managed to get a few jazz albums which I treated like rare gems in those days. I got to listen to Norah Jones’ Feels like Home. My friend and I then listened to Diana Krall’s The Look of Love…No, we did not have high-end audio playback system. But we really enjoyed listening despite our humbler audio player.
I never thought much of the meanings of the lyrics and did not bother to look them up. Neither did my friend bother. To round up today’s reminiscence of those jazzy and somewhat crazy days, I dig these out from the internet source. Well, here are some lyrics that seem well rounded and well presented of the lazy, lean, cool and casual mood and tone of those days.
In an azure mood
Through my solitude
Here in my seclusion
You’re a blue illusion
While I’m in this azure interlude
I’m not wanted
I’m so all alone
(Ella Fitzgerald – Azure Lyrics)
Looks like morning in your eyes
But the clocks held 9: 15 for hours
Couldn’t tempt us if it tried
Cuz the afternoon’s already come and gone
And I said
oooo, oooo, oooo
Couldn’t find it in your eyes
But I’m sure it’s written all over my face
(Norah Jones – Sunrise Lyrics)
What am I to you
Tell me darling true,
To me you are the sea
Vast as you can be
and deep the shade of blue
When you’re feeling low
Oh to whom else do you do
see I cry if you hurt
I’d give you my last shirt
because I love you so
(Norah Jones – What Am I To You? Lyrics)
The look of love
Is in your eyes.
A look your smile
The look of love,
It’s saying so much more than
just words could ever say.
And what my heart has heard,
Well, it takes my breath away.
(Diana Krall – The Look Of Love Lyrics)
The sky may be starless,
The night may be moonless,
But deep in my heart,
there’s a glow,
for deep in my heart,
I know that you love me.
You love me, because you told me so.
Love letters straight from your heart,
Keep us so near while we’re apart.
I’m not alone in the night,
When I can have all the love you write.
(Diana Krall – Love Letters Lyrics)
I decide to dig out these least noticeable creatures who walk close to the bottom of their water domain and give them prominence on this post. They are the typical pedestrians whom nobody bother to look at twice. Seemingly seen by many as they go about their normal daily living and yet they are on most occasions unseen, the ordinary life of the small people, that is their lot in life. Do their lives matter? If not, why bother? Someone overtly concerned with utilitarian meaning may ask. But I, I prefer to look at each life as uniquely designed and planned for a purpose and value to which we may never know. I was startled by the darting away of a very tiny lizard last night as I went into the kitchen to clear away some dry plates and pots. The poor little creature was startled too by this looming ‘giant creature’. Then I thought to myself, why do lizards persist to visit my kitchen regardless how impeccably clean and insect-less it is? I have no answer. The writer’s mind of mine likes to imagine that they have come to leave a mark (like their way of saying, ‘hello’). Perhaps they too must go through their pedestrian path which happens to include my kitchen sink. The result is that I have something additional to do (cleaning up their occasional trail) while walking through my own pedestrian way too. We cross paths. Sometimes we leave marks. Sometimes we don’t.
Windows of hope yet.
This was taken awhile ago. My young wards like visiting artificial abodes for wild creatures. I go along. But I can feel a sense of sadness for no particular reason. On the other hand, I find solace in the following verses (promises) for living creatures. The windows into another world out there beyond the horizon promise a safe place and an assured full life for even the little birds.
The desert creatures will meet hyenas,
and one wild goat will call to another.
Indeed, the night birds will stay there
and will find a resting place.
Sand partridges will make their nests there;
they will lay and hatch their eggs
and will gather their broods under their shadows.
Indeed, the birds of prey will gather there,
each with its mate.
Search and read the scroll of the Lord:
Not one of them will be missing,
none will be lacking its mate,
because he has ordered it by my mouth,
and he will gather them by his Spirit.
He has cast the lot for them;
his hand allotted their portion with a measuring line.
They will possess it forever;
they will dwell in it from generation to generation.
(Verses taken from prophet Isaiah’s book 34:14-17)
For no particular reason I was placed at this unusual room looking out of this window. I was supposed to be elsewhere in a grand five-star, but I actually paid more as a walk in to this humble place in a mall because it was too late to return to my five-star abode. Why? Well, it was just a simple outing with a close relative whom I had not seen for quite some time. We had a hurried dinner and then I decided to go back alone by Uber or a cab. But then I received a call that the people I was with decided to sleep and had to lock the room door. So I walked into this place at a mall that had closed and checked in. Since I had nothing to change into I slept in my dinner-wear except for the shoes. By dawn I was already wide awake. So I looked out at this window and waited until 11am for breakfast when the mall opened. There was nothing out there except busy morning traffic which the picture could not show. How strange it is to just wait at the window watching nothing and waiting for time to go by. I have nothing to write on except my mobile phone which battery is running flat. So I just sit at this chair and wait by the window. No food as the hotel does not cater food. No internet as I have to save my phone for emergency use. No sights to see as the room is on a floor that has a roof outside my window covering s large space presumably the shopping mall. No programs on the TV that I like to watch. I watch a bit of the discovery channel about a civilized man’s adventure learning to live the life of a soon extinct lost tribe in a primitive jungle in Africa. The tribe accepted him and built a hut made of straws and mud for him. There is no window but there is an open door. He has a nice scenery outside his door. People living their daily lives and welcoming him as a novelty visitor as well as a willing pupil. They show him and let him tell the world about them.
A window is meant to show something to people. It opens to another space, another realm. The space outside my temporary window is bleak with concrete jungle. Yes, I am in a capital city somewhere. Void of stories of people there is really nothing much to report from this window. I find that I have nothing to show or tell.
(By 10:30am I checked out and went to queue up for almost an hour at the first oriental noodle store for my breakfast which turned out to be really good!)
Waiting for a writer.
I have been lying here for quite awhile. But the writer of bullet journal has yet to turn up. I have flown all the way from Europe, to be precise, Berlin, Germany. Here I am, bound and unopened. Sometimes it gets lonely with the empty pages inside. I have dreams of them filled with love, joy and peace. Even fun perhaps if the household child ventures near and draws some doodles. Or perhaps a meditative pale young man pauses while seeping his usual cup of morning coffee to insert a verse. I wouldn’t even mind if the unkempt boy from next door climbs over the fence and tries out his new coloring pencils… O anything but being neglected and left on this busy table on which I am just a bystander watching all the other gadgets fully engaged. Don’t get me wrong. I am not giving up. I am still waiting for my writer to turn up. That hassled housewife in the kitchen? Or the retiree ageless woman who seems so set to watch the stock market online? The white-haired man who potters in the herbal garden? Any of those students who whirl in and out of the study each occupied with his or her mobile phone? I know the digital competition is tough. But I stay cool. I just dream and wait for that appointed moment with my writer.
For the uninitiated, here is a guide on what you may do with me: “The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.”
Power of God’s word heals.
Read this prayer aloud and let your heart agree with it: Heavenly Father, thank You because You’re my Father and I’m your child. I have been born again. I am born of You. You are my very own Father, and I am Your very own child. Hallelujah! It is written in Your Word that “my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” [Phil. 4:19]. I believe that in my heart. You supply my physical needs – that is, healing for my body – for it is written in Matthew 8:17, “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” Jesus took my infirmities. He bore my sicknesses. What He bore, I need not bear. Because He bore them. I’m free; I’m healed. I believe that in my heart. I say it with my mouth. It’s mine. I have it now. He meets all…
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